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JBEC MEMBERS. Basic education administrators from the various Jesuit schools gather in Cagayan de Oro for the 2nd Jesuit Basic Education Commission (JBEC) principals' meeting for this school year. Supplied photo.

Report by Samuel F Macagba III

Basic education administrators from the various Jesuit schools drew together in Cagayan de Oro for the 2nd Jesuit Basic Education Commission (JBEC) principals' meeting for this school year, held from March 5 to 6 at the Southeast Asia Rural Social Leadership Institute (SEARSOLIN). 

The program kicked off with a presentation of talents and the cultural heritage of Cagayan de Oro City to welcome the participants to the JBEC meeting. The class of Grade 7 - Gonzaga showcased a Kaamulan dance followed by the Xavier Ateneo Grade School Glee Club’s rendition of the famous song “Seasons of Love” by Rent.   


SEASONS OF LOVE. Xavier Ateneo Grade School Glee Club renders “Seasons of Love” by Rent for the JBEC participants. Supplied photo.   

One of the highlights of this meeting was the presentation of action points from the first-ever International Congress for Jesuit Delegates (JESEDU Congress) from the six regions of the global network of Jesuit schools, which took place in Rio de Janeiro last October 15-21. 

For his part, Sacred Heart - Ateneo de Cebu president Fr Manny Uy focused on the four main areas on which the 13 action points were anchored. These four areas included (1) the need to intensify the experience of God, (2) tradition and innovation, (3) care for our common home, and (4) being sent in a global network. At the end of his talk, participants were asked to evaluate their school practices and determine which areas the different JBEC schools need to focus on in their own context of development.  


PROCESS AND INNOVATION. Woohoo Learning Labs chief executive officer Galvin Ngo tells the JBEC participants: "In the process of innovating, most people start with the ‘what’ and never reach the ‘why.’ Innovation is a way of thinking of creating something new or better resulting in something better." Supplied photo.

Woohoo Learning Labs chief executive officer Galvin Ngo facilitated an innovation workshop through design-thinking and outcomes approach. He emphasized that before school administrators plan what to innovate in their schools, it is necessary to clarify the reasons why they need to undergo such change. 

“In the process of innovating, most people start with the ‘what’ and never reach the ‘why.’ Innovation is a way of thinking of creating something new or better resulting in something better,” Ngo said.

In the same workshop, Ngo shared that the best innovations start from a good knowledge of the internal and external contexts. He also mentioned that contexts are fast-changing and impose several challenges in the 21st-century learning of our students, especially in the areas of cities and global development, intercultural diversity, health and humanity, energy, Internet, media, and democracy. 

Ngo added that in order to respond with relevance to the needs of our learners, it is crucial to determine and align the impact, expected outcomes and output, and activities. At the end of Ngo’s session, the JBEC participants were able to come up with their “theory of change,” a model that allows them to innovatively respond to the challenges that they specified considering their unique individual school contexts. 


JBEC MEMBERS. Basic education administrators from the various Jesuit schools gather in Cagayan de Oro for the 2nd Jesuit Basic Education Commission (JBEC) principals' meeting for this school year. Supplied photo.

Jesuit mission schools

On the second day of the event, the Jesuits assigned in the Bukidnon Mission District (BMD) schools shared stories from their work.

Fr Harvey Mateo SJ, director and parish priest of Zamboanguita, Bukidnon, expressed his deep gratitude to various Jesuit academic institutions for their help to all the BMD schools.

He encouraged the JBEC participants to organize and systematize their efforts and initiatives in providing help to the mission schools. To this end, Mateo emphasized on the following areas in which they can help BMD schools: formation (recognizing the gifts of Ignatian spirituality), faculty training (using topics that are more relevant and responsive to the needs of their teachers and students), and resources (upgrading their tools and learning resource center).


CULTURAL PRESENTATION.  The group known as "I-Stand" showcases a lyrical dance at the opening program of the JBEC meeting. Supplied photo.

After Mateo’s presentation, APU Palamguwan Cultural Educational Center school manager Jenny Lyn Lee shared on their school’s goal of preserving the cultural heritage of their Lumad (Indigenous Peoples) learners through teaching them their native languages and understanding their cultural symbols and customs. Among the many challenges they face, Lee said that their school is having a difficult time recruiting and developing the capacities of their teachers in the community, raising funds, and encouraging parents’ involvement in the learning paradigm. 

The presentations on the BMD schools and APU have inspired the participants to provide assistance to these schools. 

Christian Life Education department chairperson Rizaline Esteba said, “Ang dami naming reklamo sa school namin, pero gano'n din pala iyong iba. Mas marami pang schools ang mas nangangailangan pa [ng tulong]." (We complain a lot about our school, but others are doing the same. There are even more schools that need help.)

The group aims to develop “a long-term institutional accompaniment plan” that will support the development of these schools through the JBEC. 


JBEC MEMBERS. Basic education administrators from the various Jesuit schools gather in Cagayan de Oro for the 2nd Jesuit Basic Education Commission (JBEC) principals' meeting for this school year. Supplied photo.

Moving forward

While the JBEC meeting meant different things among the participants, they agreed that it has been an enriching experience to hear the “stories of each other and celebrate the companionship of the JBEC community” despite the challenges in their work as school administrators.

“JBEC has provided administrators a ‘breathing space’ since the people here in this JBEC meeting are in a ‘helping mode,’” said Execisima Pasilan, Ateneo de Davao’s assistant principal for formation. 

The participants also recognized that formation of teachers is vital, especially in maintaining the mark of a Jesuit education as in living by Ignatian spirituality.

“The work really never ends since our world is rapidly changing,” said Joanne Clarissa Pusta, assistant principal for formation of Xavier School.

Xenia Gonzaga, a grade level head of Ateneo de Davao, also shared that there is a challenge of “bringing our companions to a deeper sense of mission considering the context of the younger teachers.”

In sum, the said JBEC meeting, sponsored this year by the Xavier Ateneo Basic Education cluster, allowed the administrators to see their roles in a broader sense.

As Ateneo de Manila Grade School headmaster Jose Salvador Jr quoted Onofre Pagsanjan, “The moment you lose your ‘why,’ you lose your way.” 

He added, that in the process of strengthening JBEC, “I realized that we have not been stagnant and hopefully we are moving towards the right direction.”∎


XAVIER ATENEO TEAM. Xavier Ateneo Basic Education cluster serves as the host of the 2nd Jesuit Basic Education Commission (JBEC) principals' meeting for this school year. Supplied photo.


XAVIER SCHOOL. Fr Aristotle Dy SJ, president of Xavier School, is one of the participants at the 2nd JBEC principals' meeting for this school year. Supplied photo.  


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