February 17, 2017 – BALANGA CITY HOSTS LITERACY COORDINATING COUNCIL WINNERS’ FORUM LUZON CLUSTER
Another major event as COB successfully hosts the LITERACY COORDINATING COUNCIL WINNERS’ FORUM LUZON CLUSTER.
A total of 96 delegates composed of mayors, DepEd regional directors, representatives from LGU’s, DepEd, NGO’s, NLA Coordinators, people’s organizations, and LCC secretariat attended the LCC Winners’ Forum at Crown Royale Hotel, Balanga City on February 17, 2017. The presence of under-secretaries Dina S. Ocampo and Victoria Catibog and City Mayor Francis Anthony S. Garcia highlighted the event.
Registration of participants and delegates to the event started as early as 7:30 in the morning. While waiting for the forum to start, guests grabbed the chance to have a short chit-chat with the rest of the group to get to know one another better. Some took photos while being entertained with soft melodic music rendered by Bataan National High School Rondalla and Ensemble, as breakfast was being served. Arriving at the venue, City Mayor Francis Anthony S. Garcia warmly greeted everyone with his friendly and charming smile and showed his appreciation for the conduct of such a significant event in City of Balanga.
Instantaneously, the scheduled program followed. A warm welcome from the Officer-in-Charge, DepEd Balanga City Schools Division Superintendent Dr. Carolina S. Violeta, was expressed through her message of salutation to all the participants who took time to involve themselves in this very important occasion. She also expressed anticipation that this activity would be a prolific one to all concerned.
In her opening message, Dr. Dina S. Ocampo, Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction, Department of Education Chairperson, emphasized that literacy program is for real, that it is part of the Local Government Unit’s Program and that its success is assured when LGU’s push for it, eventually discussing it with advocates of literacy all throughout the country.
Each delegate talked about the best practices and endeavors being implemented in their locality towards the total eradication of illiteracy among their constituents.
Mayor Garcia opened his discussion by giving an overview of Balanga City — its rich history and diverse culture as the capital of the province of Bataan. He also accentuated the City’s aim to become a stronghold of knowledge by supplying the region and neighboring countries with world-class talents that make organizations and industries soar to greater heights. He made mention of the City’s potential to become a center for education — a University Town and a good alternative for students to the developed University Belt in the Metropolis — a desire that gave birth to the vision of “Balanga University Town 2020: The emerging Hub for Knowledge-Based Businesses in the Philippines.”
Along with this vision, Garcia even emphasized that the city government has acted upon and initiated different programs that encourage creativity, innovation, and education, in collaboration with different offices/department and sectors throughout the city. He cited the various activities that COB extends to its constituents which truly impact the latter positively. He first talked about Learning Barangay Week which is designed to promote a more harmonious working relationship between barangay officials and residents through learning initiatives such as employment and technology training, tutorials, and mentoring sessions for students, and information sessions on the city’s healthy lifestyle program. Likewise, he alluded briefly to the Educhild Parenting Program which is given to parents which aims to teach them parenting skills, proper child rearing and management of finances. In detail, he also cited Batang Sining Creative Expression Workshop for Children, a workshop designed to hone the artistic skill of the individual, and the University Town Summit, a two-day seminar that aspires to give updates on the current issues and trends in technology, given to college students Lastly, he shared about the Education Summit which intends to help underscore the role of teachers towards the development of students’ behavior and character in order to make them responsible citizens of the community.
To further foster COB’s different programs, the administration has tapped various stakeholders and different NGOs to provide additional aid in ensuring the programs’ stability. Project Duke, which earned affirmative response and positive feedback on its possible impact when presented in last year’s LCC validation, continues to this day. The project is one of the city’s pioneer educational programs which endeavors to bring back out-of-school youth to a new kind of learning environment by familiarizing them with the use of modern technology. Because Balanga City is very passionate in ratcheting up education and learning through the efforts of the Multi-Sectoral Governance Coalition (MSGC), or Ugnayang Balangueno, four (4) Barangay Learning Hubs (BLH) and one (1) Student Learning Hub (SLH) have been put up and are now operating and serviceable to student-users for free. Khan Academy is utilized on the computers installed in each BLH/SLH. According to Mayor Garcia, Khan Academy is the most recommended among the educational sites being patronized by these learning hubs as it offers readings and trainings in various subjects while allowing students to move at their own pace. And basically the use of Khan Academy has better results in the learning of youth compared to those without the use of the Khan Academy software based on statistics presented during the forum.
Further giving information on the City’s strategies to eradicate illiteracy, Garcia quoted that the City Government’s project on literacy is not only limited to out-of-school youth, but to all citizens in all walks of life. That is why the City Government created two new programs that aim to elevate their literacy level. At present, COB now has the Walkipedia and Walk of Knowledge, kiosks with different applications and information programmed within that are placed in strategic locations in the city that any user can access. In addition, these kiosks offer a face-to-face online desk where with just one click, users will automatically be connected to an Online Help Desk Representative. Further, Gabay Kaalaman, a 20-day tutorial session is given to elementary school children. It aims to reinforce their skills in Math, Science, and English. This is a combined effort between the Association of College Scholars of Balanga City and the City Education and Excellence Development Office (CEEDO).
Mayor Garcia believes that in realizing the dream of becoming a stronghold of knowledge and pillar when it comes to programs that promote lifelong learning, the city government is incessantly looking for different agencies that would provide and bequeath additional aid to these projects to make them sustainable. The City Government’s experience only showed and proved that all it takes for the achievement of organizational goals and objectives set forth are right strategies, right people working for a common goal, and right agencies that will help fulfill its vision.
During breakout sessions, participants were grouped into three and tasked to discuss strategies on how to increase literacy rate, identify successful management schemes to embark on in further escalating literacy, formulate programs and projects that may effectively address educational needs, especially those of the youth, as well as their sustainability, devise ways and means of raising funds to augment the implementation of the local literacy programs, projects and activities and how to fully strengthen the council in raising literacy level and draw up plans for lifelong learning in their area of jurisdiction.
As a way of expressing gratitude for the opportunity accorded to City of Balanga to sponsor the LCC Winner’s Forum that commenced earlier on February 17, 2017, City Mayor Francis Anthony Garcia hosted a simple, yet symbolic dinner at Lou-Is Resort and Restaurant Grand Ballroom, City of Balanga attended by local chief executives and representatives from DepEd and other education sectors in Luzon cluster.
Mayor Francis’ wife Raquel who is Chairperson of the Balanga Tourism Council, formally welcomed the guests in her opening remarks. Congressman Joet Garcia and wife Isabel were also present to.
The night showcased the talents of Koro Bangkal Magbikin, V-Crew and HOM Two-Man band, who provided entertainment for the guests.
Also showing support for this significant affair were City Councilors Vic Baluyot and Jorescel Panganiban, city government department heads led by City Administrator Rodolfo de Mesa, city mayor’s office and members of Ugnayang Balangueno.
The night was highlighted by a special number performed by BNHS SPA dancers that encouraged everyone in the Grand Ballroom to dance with them, feel the beat of the music and enjoy the rest of the evening.