Puerto Princesa City, Palawan– Rising up to the challenge posed by climate change and environmental crisis on the Philippines, educators gathered here for the 15th National Educators’ Conference themed “The Educators’ Role in Promoting Environmental Justice, Peace and Development”.
Organized by the IBON Partnership in Education for Development (IPED) and the Education for Development (EfD), the conference was attended by over 50 educators, school administrators and heads of private and public schools from 15 provinces nationwide.
Puerto Princesa City Councilor Mike Cuaderno welcomed the participants to the city, which is home to the underground river and listed among the world’s seven new wonders of nature. The councilor gave credit to the City Mayor Edward Hagedorn for leading Palawan to become the country’s leading greenest cities. Hagedorn is a former illegal logger-turned-environmental advocate.
In his keynote piece, Climate Climate Change Commission Undersecretary Naderev Sano stressed on the need to have the correct social, economic and development framework to avoid the accelerating adverse impacts of escalating global environmental crisis.
Sano challenged the participants to teach Science and link it with realities and its implications on policy and economics; to make methodologies more popular; to develop critical thinkers, to “walk the talk so you can talk the walk and be agents of change”, and to remember that “the real classroom is outside the classroom”.
Mika Ortega, daughter of slain anti-mining advocate Dr. Gerry Ortega, honored the teachers as her role model. Saying that her father’s violent death led her to become an environmental activist, Ortega stressed that compassion for the suffering and fighting for the environment should be everybody’s cause.
IBON executive director Sonny Africa explained how the Philippine government’s adherence to globalization has resulted in wide and deepening poverty, severe inequality and ecological crisis. Africa encouraged educators to promote not only environment advocacy in the classroom but also nationalist economics. He stressed that educators should maintain a bias for people’s welfare, and provide the students with the perspective and plight of the marginalized.
Participants also joined four simultaneous education sessions on disaster risk reduction, indigenous peoples and mining, the state of the Philippine environment and Rio+20 as well as the green economy. In workshops they were tasked to draw up a learning plan on topics of their choice for integration into their lesson plan.
Aside from presenting past and future activities of the EfD, IPED head Jazminda Lumang also spearheaded the launching of Boni@150, an initiative commemorating the 150 years of Andres Bonifacio. It will include a series of lectures on nationalist economics to be hosted by various schools and universities across the nation.
The first day of the Educators’ Conference also featured a discussion of the Department of Education’s K+12 Basic Education. Rep. Antonio Tinio of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Partylist expressed that despite the good intention of the program, the K+12 should have been implemented after proper preparation. He urged educators to study the new curriculum more closely and propose appropriate measures that can be pursued in Congress. (end)