Widening my horizons

Widening my horizons

Debbie Lacuesta

“With the expertise of SEAMEO INNOTECH that has evolved through time, I am sure that it can cope with the fast-changing environment in the field of education.”


I was a student at the University of the Philippines in the ‘70s when I got to know about SEAMEO INNOTECH. It was through a one-time visit along with my sister, to a distant relative who is the son of a former UP professor at the College of Education and was working in INNOTECH. At that time, the Center held office in that College. 

After hearing good stories from my relative about his experience working at SEAMEO INNOTECH, it became one of my career aspirations to work there, too. My initial engagement was in 1985 as a Clerk Typist under the Training Division. I applied to the post knowing that it can also be my entry point to wider horizons. After some time, the head of the Research Division who knew my research background asked me to help analyze the evaluation data of a project funded by the Philippine Australian Development Assistance Program (PADAP). Aside from data analysis, I was asked to help in writing the technical report. My engagement was more technical than clerical. Eventually, I was reassigned as Research Assistant and later on I retired as a Senior Specialist and Head of the Solutions Development Unit (SDU), now named the Educational Innovations Unit (EIU).

I became involved with different projects, all of which were memorable as I had the chance to help in designing and developing programs aimed at enhancing the educational system in Southeast Asia. Among these projects were Project Learning for Effective Administrator Development or Project LEAD funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)Enhancement of the Instructional Management by Parents, Community, and Teachers  or IMPACT Learning Materials to the prevailing curriculum of the Department of Educationthe Mobile Technology for Teachers (MT4T) Project, and the Teacher Competency Framework including the development of learning modules which are now being used through the GURO21 courses or Gearing Up Responsible and Outstanding Teachers in Southeast Asia for the 21st Century courses. As I look back, I saw my involvement in those projects as opportunities to travel outside of the Philippines and to widen my horizon. I cherished my involvement as it gave me valuable learning experiences while working for the improvement of the educational system in Southeast Asia. Under Project LEAD, I was sent to Canada for a one-month study visit at the University of Saskatchewan. I also had training opportunities in different places in the Philippines and in other countries like Japan. Further, I was involved in several United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization or UNESCO-funded projects which gave me the opportunity to travel to countries like Nepal, China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Macau, and Uzbekistan. SEAMEO INNOTECH Regional Education Program (SIREP) Projects also gave me the chance to travel to other SEAMEO member countries.  

Of all the projects I got involved with, I consider Project LEAD as the pioneering and innovative program from which other programs, not only of the Center, were patterned. It was like a seed that grew and bore fruit among educational institutions and learners who benefited from the program. Project LEAD was the Center’s firstgeneration distance learning project, employing both face-to-face and distance learning modes with tutors to help the learners. Managed under the Center’s Research and Evaluation Division, with a Specialist from Indonesia seconded to the Center as Project Manager, the project developed distance learning modules which were enhanced with videos. Project LEAD courses ran for several years. After its completion, the Pangasinan State University (PSU) continued to implement the project and became part of its Open University course offerings.  

Another innovative project that I got involved with was the MT4T, which started during my term as Head of the Solutions Development Unit (SDU). It is now considered a flagship project of the Center for the 21st century. It is the same with the e-Citizenship eBook which aims to enhance the social and emotional skills of children in addressing cyberbullying and other cybercrimes associated with social media and advancement in technologies. Member countries welcomed this project and some have already adapted and translated it in their language for wider use.  


With the expertise of SEAMEO INNOTECH that has evolved through time, I am sure that it can cope with the fast-changing environment in the field of education. It was truly a life-defining experience to become part of the Center. My heartfelt congratulations to SEAMEO INNOTECH on its 50th Anniversary!   

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