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City Government inks education agreement

By Alec A. Santos

BARELY half a year into City Mayor John G. Bongat’s first term as chief executive, the City of Naga is well on its way in improving its educational system.

After months of negotiations, the City Government was able to close a deal with Smart Communications, Inc., the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), the Ateneo de Naga University, and the Department of Education (DepEd) to gain assistance in the form of training of volunteer tutors and the development of learning modules.

Dubbed as CommuniTeach, the program aims to develop local teachers and volunteer instructors in helping academically challenged public elementary school students in Naga through mentoring.

The Memorandum of Agreement was signed in a simple ceremony held last Dec. 13 at Triangulo Elementary School by Mayor Bongat, Ramon Isberto, Public Affairs Group head of Smart Communications, Inc., Klaas Oreel, Chief Executive Advisor of PBSP, Fr. Joel Tabora, President of Ateneo de Naga University, Dr. Diosdado San Antonio of DepEd, and the principals of the participating elementary schools of Brgy. Triangulo and Brgy. Pacol.

Under the agreement, which will last for the next 3 years, Smart Communications will provide funding for the implementation of the CommuniTeach program through the PBSP-Motolite “Balik Baterya” program. The Naga City Government, for its part, will provide for the annual operational funding that will benefit the two schools, with 40 students from each school gaining from the mentoring program.

Student volunteers from Ateneo de Naga University will also serve as volunteers to help in the mentoring of participating students. The DepEd, as the primary agency for education, is expected to ensure the performance of the obligations and undertaking of the participating schools and help in the evaluation and assessment of program implementation.

“This is the dawn of a new era for basic elementary education in Naga. Through this agreement, the City Government of Naga is forging strong bonds as a sign that we value public-private partnerships and its benefits, especially in ensuring a better and brighter future for our young Nagueños,” says Mayor Bongat.

A new Memorandum of Agreement with the Ayala Foundation also pertaining to education, is set to be signed by Mayor Bongat by the first week of January 2011. The Ayala Foundation will also tap the technical expertise of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Regional Center for Educational Innovation and Technology (SEAMEO-INNOTECH) and Globe Telecom for the proposed project.

Under the Text2Teach project, the Ayala Foundation will provide 3G-capable mobile phones for 12 beneficiary schools, educational video and audio materials on English, Math and Science subjects and teacher training. The Local School Board and the City Government, for their part, will identify and recommend qualified schools as well as provide 29-inch colored television sets for each of the 12 schools.

Using the latest in 3G technology, teachers can download lessons from a regularly-updated selection prepared by SEAMEO-INNOTECH. As many as 40 students at a time can view short audio-visual presentations.