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PIA Press Release

ADB interacts with education stakeholders in remote, top-rated school

By Bong Pedalino

Barangay Rizal, Tomas Oppus, Southern Leyte (January 28) -- Visiting officials from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) today had a lively exchange of ideas with mentors and local leaders on how innovative approaches in teaching helped the national high school located here reaped top honors in nationally-administered tests, especially in the year 2006.

"We are here to learn. The ADB has been a constant partner with the Philippines in development initiatives. We are here to serve you," ADB Vice President C. Lawrence Greenwood, Jr. told a packed audience of teachers, local officials, students, and parents inside one of the function rooms of Rizal National High School (RNHS) in this far-flung village this morning.

The occasion was part of the ADB officials' two-day field visits to areas around the province where they have projects, in this case involving schools under the Secondary Education Development Improvement Program (SEDIP), a national government loan which ADB financed.

Present were education officials led by Schools Division Superintendent Violeta Alocilja, Shirley Kuizon, SEDIP in-charge from the Department of Education (DepEd) Central Office, Provincial Board Member Agustin Escano, who also represented his wife, Mayor Felicula Escano, and Provincial Planning Officer Virginia Lim Cruz, in behalf of Gov. Damian Mercado.

Earlier, Board Member Escano, the acknowledged founder of RNHS, narrated how he dreamed -- and kept on dreaming -- since the early 1970's of putting up a high school in this interior part of the town to serve the young students from the six barangays around, an aspiration that was not easy in coming.

It was in 1992, when his wife became the municipality's PTA President, that the dream started to crystallize, until in 1997, with technical help from the DECS then, and support from Cong. Roger Mercado, the school began to take shape, the lot purchased by the six barangays and the municipality.

The SEDIP program came in, and so school buildings were set up around the campus, and classrooms were greatly improved from makeshift huts in the early days, Escano recalled.

The infrastructure component of SEDIP was complemented by "soft" interventions, like instructions materials and training for teachers in core subjects, among others, making the atmosphere more conducive to the learning process.

From humble beginnings, RNHS caught national attention when it topped the National Achievement Tests (NAT) four years ago.

During the open forum, several teachers took turns sharing how the feeding programs at the elementary level contributed also to the students' learning, including the putting up of nutritious vegetable garden in schools, and the help of parents in preparing the meals and snacks for the poor children.

Jessie Felicilda, the school principal, disclosed that they are closely sustaining best practices in the past to perk up the performance of students, even exerting extra hours devoted to learning in school, so they can be top again.

The school at present has a total of 197 enrollees, the highest so far in an increasing trend of enrollment. (PIA-Southern Leyte) [top]

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