ASEAN Education Senior Officials report progress on Learning Continuity Plan

December 4, 2020 – The Philippines’ Department of Education (DepEd) hosted the 15th Senior Officials’ Meeting on Education (SOM-ED) on Wednesday, November 18, 2020, which was attended by education ministers from across the ASEAN region.

“In this meeting, we put in perspective not only what we are facing now but what we will do in order to be better and stronger after COVID-19. We are aiming to a forward-looking education that is responsive to the demands of a fast-changing world. We need to re-direct and re-structure our plans for education to be able to cope these challenges,” Secretary Leonor Magtolis-Briones said in her welcome remarks during the virtual international meeting.

Undersecretary for Planning Service and Field Operations Jesus L.R. Mateo served as the chair of the meeting, which adopted the theme “Transforming Education the ASEAN Way: Forging partnerships in the age of global disruptions”. Each ASEAN member state shared their experiences in promoting learning continuity during the present pandemic.

During the 15th SOM-ED, Undersecretary Mateo reported updates on the programs it implemented under the Basic Education – Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP) including DepEd Commons as its online learning platform and DepEd TV.

Meanwhile, efforts of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) such as OPLAN TESDA: ABOT LAHAT and TESDA Online Program (TOP) that aim to contribute to upskilling and reskilling in the “new normal” through its online courses and PHL CHED Connect and CHED HiEd Bayanihan that allow access to learning and training materials to educator and learners of Commission on Higher Education (CHED) were also highlighted.

“The Philippine Department of Education, as well as TESDA and CHED, remains steadfast in its commitment to regional cooperation in various fora especially in these challenging yet exciting times. The diversity among Southeast Asian countries can yield experiences, knowledge and opportunities to learn the solutions that work best in the circumstances that enable effective implementation,” Undersecretary Mateo emphasized.

“The Philippines support for such regional platforms as a potent contribution to enriching the knowledge resources that would be relevant in addressing current concerns and in guiding future education reforms in the region,” he added.

Meanwhile, some countries presented their respective responses to the pandemic, including conducting physical classes by phases with safety protocols being observed. A School Management Manual was published in Thailand to ensure safety for both learners and their teachers. Singapore, on the other hand, observes daily temperature check in their schools as part of their health safety protocols.

With most ASEAN states implementing distance learning, education ministers encouraged each member state to continue supporting their learners by providing quality content through the utilization of their present learning modalities such as online platform, as well as television and radio.

Apart from learning continuity efforts, ASEAN member states also gave recognition to the importance of the mental well-being of the learner to ensure the effective implementation of distance learning. Malaysia shared that a whole-of-community approach creates a supportive learning environment for children. 

The ASEAN education ministries also adapted their respective revised school year plan and curriculum framework for this year and highlighted the need to do research to prepare for other crises in the future.

Regional initiatives were also presented during the meeting, such as the progress of the ASEAN Work Plan on Education 2016-2020 and the development of post-2020 work plan, the post-COVID rebuilding efforts through the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework and the establishment of the TVET Council.

SEAMEO Secretariat reiterated that the efforts of the ASEAN members need to be sustained for learning continuity to be successful amid the current public health situation.

“For us who have the means, and the authority to influence the direction of our educational systems, the opportunity is now. Let us seize the day. Let us all be inspired to lead our learners and our teachers to the future of education, that is now”, Undersecretary Mateo added.

The Philippines was also represented by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and SEAMEO INNOTECH who gave support in commitment to continuing quality education in the country through partnerships with the ASEAN Region and beyond.


ASEAN Member states to discuss recovery plans on 15th SOM-ED Meeting

November 18, 2020 — Hosted by the Philippines, senior officials from education ministries of ASEAN member states will come together for this year’s 15th ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Education (SOM-ED) on Wednesday.

The meeting for this year, which will be held virtually, adopted the theme “Transforming Education the ASEAN Way: Forging Partnerships in the Age of Global Disruptions” as education ministers will share their best practices amidst the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During an international conference, Secretary Leonor Magtolis-Briones mentioned international cooperative solutions on education notwithstanding the presence of a pandemic.

“The challenge is to develop general ability to learn knowledge and skill for solving real-world problems and challenges. We are all aware that most of us, if not all of us, have been moving into the direction of futures education even without COVID-19. We really need digital cooperation strategy to ensure high quality and also in rich equity of education,” Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones emphasized during the APEC Conference on Cooperation in Higher Education in Asia-Pacific.

For this year, the proposal for the development of the ASEAN Work Plan on Education 2021-2025 is expected to be completed through succeeding technical workshops and consultative meetings.

Coordinated by the ASEAN University Network (AUN), SOM-ED administers cooperation on higher education and serves as an ASEAN mechanism to:

1)    promote cooperation among ASEAN scholars, academicians, and scientists in the region;

2)    develop academic and professional human resource in the region;

3)  promote information dissemination among the ASEAN academic community; and

4)    enhance the awareness of regional identity and the sense of ‘ASEANness’ among members.

ASEAN cooperation on education is overseen at the Ministerial level by an ASEAN Education Ministers Meeting – which meets annually – and the implementation of the programs and activities for education matters is carried out by the ASEAN SOM-ED, which reports to the ASEAN Education Ministers Meeting.

Apart from giving focus on the development of basic education, the progress on the Ad Hoc Working Group on ASEAN Higher Education Mobility to be hosted by Commission on Higher Education (CHED) will also be looked forward to during the forum.

The Philippines, as the Chair of the ASEAN education sector, will also host the 11th ASEAN Education Ministers Meeting on November 20, 2020.


One Meralco energizes off-grid NegOr schools

NEGROS ORIENTAL, November 5, 2018 – Eight schools from the Department of Education (DepEd)-Division of Negros Oriental now enjoy electricity through the School Electrification Program (SEP) of One Meralco Foundation.

The ceremonial turn-over of the Solar Photovoltaic (PV) System, Multimedia Equipment and Energy Education Flash Cards was held on August 26, at the DepEd Region VII-Sub Regional Office in Dumaguete City.

The SEP aims to energize public schools in very remote islands and mountain areas in the country in the hope of improving the learning experience of students in off-grid schools. This project is a flagship education program outside the Meralco franchise area.

Each of the eight schools received a multimedia package, which consists of a 49-inch LED TV, a laptop computer, and a printer-scanner, donated by employees of Meralco through their organization called Employees’ Fund for Charity, Inc. (MEFCI).

The newly energized schools are: Apo Elementary School in Dauin; Bago-bago Elementary School, Kanggabok Elementary School, Pedro R. Abul Memorial High School and San Isidro Elementary School in Santa Catalina; Salingkubong Elementary School and Nawacat Elementary School in Siaton; and Palay Elementary School in Manjuyod.

In her speech, DepEd Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones stated that education cannot move without light and electricity: “We have ambitions towards 21st century education skills which will allow the graduates of our senior high school to either enter university or proceed to college or enter the world or work. Therefore, they have to be proficient in science and technology, and also in culture, music, and history. That cannot be achieved without the blessings of electricity. If ever we will be able to do something without electricity, it will, of course, be very limited.”

She underscored that education is the foundation and the beginning of economic development, and electricity has a big role in enhancing and speeding up the development process.

Moreover, Briones expressed her gratitude to One Meralco for all its efforts in making electricity available to schools and for the multimedia package given by their employees.

Meanwhile, Region VII Director Juliet Jeruta thanked the OMF for supporting the areas that still lack electrification and for the provision of services and multimedia equipment.

Energy Education Flash Cards

In addition to the schools that received SEP and multimedia equipment, six elementary schools and six secondary schools received the Energy Education Flash Cards authored by 37 public school teachers from across the country under the supervision of the Coalition of Better Education (CBE) and DepEd. The Energy Ed Kit is a 200-piece flashcard package focused on energy-related topics that the public school teachers can use.

Jeffrey Tarayao, President of One Meralco Foundation and Chief Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Officer of Meralco, mentioned that 223 schools are already energized using solar power, and the flash cards have been distributed to 895 public schools and are being used by 504,885 learners.

Based on the impact assessment conducted by the University of the Philippines-Public

Administration Research and Extension Services Foundation, the three very important effects of the electrification program include the increased learning gains and productivity of teachers, and drawing more development opportunities.

Present in the turn-over ceremony were Meralco representatives, DepEd regional and division officials, school heads, teachers, parents, learners, local executives, Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) officials, and other stakeholders.



Photo1-2: DepEd Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones graced the ceremonial turn-over of the Solar Photovoltaic (PV) System, Multimedia Equipment, and Energy Education Flash Cards, made possible by the One Meralco Foundation, at the DepEd Region VII-Sub Regional Office in Dumaguete City.


CCC Welcomes Approval of USD1B of Green Climate Fund Projects, Seeks Faster Accreditation of Direct Access Entities

MANILA, 17 November 2020 — Following the 27th Meeting of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board held virtually from November 9 to 13, 2020, the Climate Change Commission (CCC) welcomed the approval of the Philippines as a participating country in Climate Investor One, an innovative blended finance facility managed by Climate Fund Managers and providing an integrated, full project life cycle financing solution to support the development, construction and commissioning of renewable energy projects more expeditiously and at reduced cost. The project is set to deploy USD 100 million capital in a total of 18 countries for historic and new renewable energy projects

The Board also approved 16 new projects by developing countries all over the world, amounting to over one billion US dollars, intended to finance climate adaptation and mitigation initiatives.

The CCC also welcomed the accreditation of four new Accredited Entities (AEs) or partner organizations, ranging from country organizations called Direct Access Entities (DAEs), to regional and multi-national bodies. AEs submit funding proposals and act as a conduit of GCF funds as they implement climate projects approved and funded by the GCF.

CCC Commissioner Rachel Herrera, who sits as Alternate Member in the GCF Board representing the Asia-Pacific constituency, appreciated the Board’s accreditation of the new AEs—three of which are DAEs—but also noted that it is still too low in enabling stronger country ownership for developing countries. In the case of the Philippines, only the Land Bank of the Philippines has completed the process of approval as DAE for GCF.

“We continue to express our concern that AEs spend an average of 21.1 months from application towards approval—with one DAE taking up to 30 months, which are 30 months’ worth of time and resources lost,” Herrera said.

“The direct access modality is designed to help developing countries exercise ownership of finance, align these with national climate action plans, and not the least, build the needed capacity within our national institutions for climate projects. We articulate these points to push for concrete ways to address persistent challenges, so that more DAEs go through a shorter accreditation period and will encourage more applicants to find more clarity and efficiency in the process,” Herrera added.

The CCC said that the GCF is the world’s largest climate fund that aims to foster a paradigm shift towards low emission, climate-resilient development pathways in developing countries. The GCF serves the Paris Agreement and is governed by a Board that has equal representation from developing and developed countries.

The CCC also noted that the 27th GCF Board Meeting raises the GCF’s total portfolio to USD7.2 billion and that the value of the approved projects for 2020 alone is over USD2 billion—a record year for GCF programming.

GCF Executive Director Yannick Glemarec said that project agreements for four projects were immediately signed upon their approval at the Board Meeting, showing how quickly they are moving to approve and implement vital projects and programs in developing countries.

“GCF has stepped up its operations this year in spite of the global pandemic, and is providing more support to developing countries than ever as we help them to build a low-emission, climate-resilient recovery. The ambitious work programme the Board has approved for 2021 will give further momentum to making our operations more efficient and more effective,” Glemarec said. ###