WHILE SINGAPORE celebrates its golden anniversary as a first-world nation, 30 school administrators of Ateneo de Iloilo-SMCS visited the island state for an educational trip last August 4-8, 2015.
11 from the 30 are from the high school department headed by principal Rosario Dordas and associate principal Herman Lagon. Also aboard were senior math teacher Michel Guevara and subject area coordinators John Paul Chua, Primo Escobañez, Arianne Agnes Lao, Lally Jane Calagunay, Matthew Lasap, Francis Dave Moreno, Menchie Libo-on, and Ma. Llane Cordero.
Aside from the high school delegation, 11 others, headed by principal Cecilia Japitana and associate principal Raquel Gargaritano, came from the grade school. With them were area heads Leonora Lobaton, Victoria Aviles, Buenafe Jimenez, Ronnie Defensor, Era Joy de los Reyes, Ervie Quiros, Rachel Gabanite, Jenny Olano, and Jacqueline Peñas. 8 others were from the central administration led by school president Fr. Joseph Haw. They were school chaplain Fr. Ruben Orbeta, CIE director Aurora de la Cruz, personnel officer Mary Grace Moquite, treasurer Mark Anthony Yap, registrar Edron Bullo Jr., and engineers Henry Omolida and Raul Española.
The visit was primarily for benchmarking purposes, giving the Ateneo school officials the venue to immerse themselves with Singaporean educational system through orientations, class observations, site visits, and exchange of ideas with their counterparts. The trip also gave the delegates the time to bond with each other, deepen their commitment to the Jesuit mission, and appreciate the multi-cultural dynamics of the Island State.
To note, Singapore has been consistently in the top spot in terms of quality of basic education in the world for science, mathematics, and reading as affirmed by Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). Its follows a special kind of “differentiation” system that separates learners from special, express, normal academic, and normal technical streams, each having contextualized curriculum.
For the school visits, the delegation was divided into two teams, each having a separate itinerary designed for its departmental concerns and interests. The high school group visited Kranji Secondary School, Fuhua Secondary School, and the Holy Infant Jesus Our Lady Queen of Peace School. The grade school group, on the other hand, went to Westwood Primary School, Corporation Primary School, and Bukit Panjang Primary School. All the schools visited are from the Jurong West side of Singapore where the delegation were also billeted (Choice Hotel).
Both teams also went to the main office of the Marshall Cavendish Education Pte. Ltd., the main publishing company of Singapore books, for more discussion about Singaporean education and how the company has accompanied the country in designing a strong educational system that made it “world leading” in major subject areas.
As part of the trip, the group also visited Gardens by the Bay (Flower Dome, Cloud Forest, Supertrees Grove, and Children’s Garden) and Sentosa Island (Merlion, Resorts World, and Universal Studios), among others.
Most of the insights of the participants focused on what can be adopted in Ateneo de Iloilo-SMCS to better its service to its clients. Ideas included revisiting of the school’s curriculum and instruction, especially in the areas of thinking routines, use of modules and manipulatives, and computer-aided instruction. New points were also noted to strengthen the school’s co-curricular offerings, facilities, human resource policies, working atmosphere, processes, and school culture.
It is worthy to note that the trip also affirmed Ateneo de Iloilo’s commitment to values formation which is the very direction that the present Singaporean educational system is trying to give focus on. It was also observed by the delegation that Ateneo can take pride in its more flexible curriculum and more animated teachers.
To note, the school also brought its subject area coordinators, principals, and office administrators last October 9-11, 2013 for a similar educational initiative in the three Jesuit schools, namely Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City, Xavier School in San Juan, and Xavier School-Nuvali in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. It was in this trip that the Singapore benchmarking was conceived. (Herman Lagon/Magis)