MTB-MLE, K to 12, ESD and GCED: Abbreviations that define my SEAMEO INNOTECH experience
Ethel Agnes Pascua-Valenzuela
“Despite the changing names and projects, one thing remains true: that wherever and whenever, innovation through research and development should continue — and SEAMEO will always find its way at the center of action, irrespective of time and place.”
Mother-Tongue Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE), Kindergarten to Twelve (K to 12), Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), and Global Citizenship Education (GCED) defined my almost a decade of stay in SEAMEO INNOTECH as a Senior Specialist of the then Research Studies Unit (RSU). The list of projects in my nearly 10 years of service is long, but if asked to choose which ones left a lasting impact and contribution, these abbreviations would be at the top of my list.
All these research projects allowed me to go to places I have never even dreamed of going — from the far-flung municipalities in Mindanao like Tawi-Tawi, Lanao, and Zamboanga where security issues are prevalent, to the most difficult terrains that required crossing open seas, taking habal-habal rides, or long hours of trekking to reach the respondents, conduct interviews, and gather inputs. I have been involved from those initial raw documentation and transcript of interviews, survey results, and a number of quantitative and qualitative data to the actual transformation through writing of the research reports and the finalization and production of policy briefs, policy notes, and research reports. This is probably the reason why I am confident in my conviction that SEAMEO INNOTECH has done its share in finding innovative policy research solutions not just in the Philippines but also in the other 11 Southeast Asian countries.
SEAMEO INNOTECH played a key role when former President Benigno Aquino III proclaimed in his first State of the Nation Address in 2010 that “We need to add two years to our basic education to catch up with the rest of the world. Here, those who can afford it pay for up to 14 years of schooling for their children before university. Thus, their children are getting into the best universities and the best jobs after graduation. I want at least 12 years for our public school children, to give them an even chance at succeeding.” Thus, we embarked on a journey to assist the Department of Education (DepEd) in identifying K to 12 models in Southeast Asia and other neighboring countries, developing a K to 12 Toolkit which will be handy reference to key implementers of the K to 12 reforms, and developing K to 12 educational videos to help people understand better this big educational reform in the country. These efforts paid off when the program was passed into law and eventually rolled out and implemented throughout the country. The Center became a partner of DepEd in various capacities in the research and training services.
Together with SEAMEO and the World Bank (WB), I led the Regional Training of policy makers and practitioners of MTB-MLE in Southeast Asian countries in 2000. After this SEAMEO–WB training, we embarked on another case documentation on how MTB-MLE in an Ayta Magbukun community in Bataan improved their knowledge using mother tongue as language of communication. This particular project is now funded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). This is INNOTECH’s contribution to local and international researches on the positive effect of MTB-MLE. This later fed into the development of MTB–MLE together with other cases consolidated by Philippine experts supporting Republic Act 10533, or the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 became a law containing provisions on MTB-MLE.
When GCED was very new, I took the risk of documenting it through peace education in Mindanao and submitted this action research to donors and award-giving bodies. Such risks and efforts paid off when it was awarded “Best Case Studies on Peace Education” and “GCED in Schools and Communities in Southeast Asia” by the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding or APCEIU. Such awards and commendations are testament to the high-quality research outputs of the Center.
In 2015, I was at a crossroads where I made a bold decision to leave the comforts of the familiar SEAMEO INNOTECH home for another: SEAMEO Secretariat in Bangkok, Thailand. I took with me a treasure trove of SEAMEO INNOTECH experience and every memory as a reminder that my world and my context have become so much larger as I became the first female Deputy Director for Programme and Development. Little did I know that such a decision will eventually lead me to be the 18th Director and the first woman Director of SEAMEO Secretariat.
SEAMEO INNOTECH is celebrating its 50th year in a new decade of digitalization and disruption, but I am sure that the Center will adjust and adapt fast, and will assist the region and the SEAMEO community in addressing challenges brought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. SEAMEO INNOTECH shall continue to be more in–depth and innovative in its educational innovation programs. As one of the more senior SEAMEO Centers, SEAMEO INNOTECH shall continue to harness the positive gains in partnerships which are aimed at improving programs, making it responsive to the needs of the member countries. Looking ahead, I believe that SEAMEO INNOTECH will be able to fulfill its vision of a better future for every learner in Southeast Asia. Its strength lies in the committed men and women, the prime movers who will make sure that it will bring the Center closer to its mandate and vision.
I would like to congratulate SEAMEO INNOTECH for making a difference by showcasing what the SEAMEO family can offer in the education sector of the region — from MTB–MLE, K to 12, ESD, GCED, and the like. Despite the changing names and projects, one thing remains true: that wherever and whenever, innovation through research and development should continue — and SEAMEO will always find its way at the center of action, irrespective of time and place.