DepEd Secretary Lapus and directors of Regions I,II, III, IVA, IVB inject quality into preschools

Published by rudy Date posted on April 2, 2009

At the midpoint of the UN Millennium Development Goal 2000-2015, the Department of Education (DepEd) joined the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare & Development) to inject quality Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in preschool, especially to avert dropouts in primary school.

Since 1983 to the present, seven mayors of Metro Manila, seven of Ifugao, and one in Angeles, Pampanga have supported the conversion of the DSWD Day Care Centers into Pagsasarili preschools. In his final term in Congress, Secretary Jesli Lapus funded the South Concepcion, Tarlac Pagsasarili preschool. As Mayor of Lipa, Vilma Santos Recto converted 83 of her 108 day care centers from 2004 to 2007 and as Batangas Governor, she continued the program adding nine Pagsasarili preschools in the province. This summer, in collaboration with the new Lipa Mayor Oscar Gozos, 20 more day care centers will be converted to Pagsasarili.

DepEd responds to the UNESCO Challenge for EFA-DAKAR

Framework of action

DepEd joined the effort in 2003 when Undersecretary Vilma Labrador was Region III Director signing a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the OB Montessori Child and Community Foundation to integrate the Pagsasarili curriculum in the EFA-DAKAR pilot of Pulung Bulu public elementary school in Angeles City, Pampanga. Adjacent to it is the 34-year old OB Montessori Angeles Branch where the public school teachers were re-trained. Yearly enhancement courses are being given in the use of apparata for the Cosmic curriculum.

Two years ago, DepEd Secretary Jesli Lapus funded the conversion of 25 public preschools to Pagsasarili preschools. This DepEd project linked to the Southeast Asian Center for Lifelong Learning for Sustainable Development (SEA-CLLSD), a proposal to UNESCO Paris of the Philippine National Commission to be a Category 2 Center championing quality education for self-sufficiency. The project involved re-training of 50 teachers for five weeks that summer, and in-service training on site by the Pagsasarili teacher-trainors. Each school also received one van-load of Pagsasarili materials.

The special fund provided by Secretary Lapus helped four DepEd Regional Directors – Dr. Ligaya Soledad Miguel (Region I), Dr. Jesus Taberdo (II), Dr. Mario Ramirez (III), Dr. George Garma (IV-A, CALABARZON), and Dr. Paraluman Giron (IV-B, MIMAROPA) – convert selected pilot preschools into DepEd Pagsasarili preschools with the help of the SEA-CLLSD National Laboratory, the OB Montessori Center, and its OB Montessori Child and Community Foundation headed by Mrs. Concepcion Suarez.

The teacher transformation

The Pagsasarili Preschool teacher-training is a proficiency course given to college students, preferably degree holders. High school discipline is inadequate for the theories and practices are psychological and not pedagogical. Through its 25-year experience, the Pagsasarili Teacher Training Program has been perfected and lectures have been standardized, including the laboratory practice with children using the internationally approved Montessori materials and in-service training. The reduced number of materials makes it more affordable for the underprivileged urban and rural children.

Full board and lodging for the 25 pairs of public school teachers in April and May 2007 were provided using dormitories at the OB Montessori Greenhills headquarters. Meals were served at the college Italian restaurant, La Dolce Fontana (RLDF). The training took place at the Montessori Teacher College laboratory where they work with the Pagsasarili apparata. They were also able to observe the “Lifelong ESD” in action from preschool, elementary to professional high school and see the relevance of the continuum education through the formative years of childhood.

The theoretical and practical courses were systematically calendared. Readings and essay writings were drawn from the book, “The Life and Works of Maria Montessori”. Discussions were conducted by 10 lecturers. Simultaneously guided by senior Pagsasarili experts, each trainee had to put together an apparatus book made up of more than 100 lessons on Practical Life, Sensorial Arts, Cultural Arts, Language and Math. Everyday, they were required to be well-groomed from “head to toes”. Classes warm up with each one giving a two-minute impromptu Dale Carnegie talk in English.

RLDF Manager Isabel Espina remarked after the first two weeks, “What happened to the public school teachers? They look different, much younger, good-looking, AND they are now conversing in English!!!”

Drawbacks of the project

Strong typhoon was raging when the van-load of Pagsasarili materials, including sample tables and chairs, were shipped on the “Super Cat”, “Roro”, “batil” and “Super Ferry” to reach Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan.

Majority of the teachers trained, being LET passers, proved to be very good Pagsasarili teachers, especially those from Region II, III and IV-B or MIMAROPA. However, their transformation would not have happened without the two in-service trainings on site – during the opening of the school year and semestral break – plus an enhancement course the following summer.

These required the Pagsasarili trainors to visit the pilot schools for 3 days to help set up the “prepared environment”, demonstrate how to present the materials and orient the parents. Due to the limited time, both trainors and novice teachers had to work till late at night answering their numerous queries and clarifications. Often times, both trainors and trainees sleep in the classroom. Within the first semester, supervisors and principals were overwhelmed by the transformation of both teachers and preschoolers.

Hazardous in-service training

Pagsasarili teacher trainors had to travel from two to eight hours by bus to Region I (Lingayen, Pangasinan), Region II (Enrile, Cagayan and Naguilian, Isabela), Region III (Concepcion, Tarlac and Dinalupihan, Bataan) and IV-A (CALABARZON). Trainors Joji Dellosa, Erlinda Leonardo, Mercedita Esgana, and Julia Evelyn dela Cruz went through a more hazardous trip to Region IV-B (MIMAROPA).

They took an average of six hours travel by bus and ferry boat to reach the port of Abra de Ilog (Mindoro Occidental), proceeding to the DepEd Pagsasarili school sites of Abra de Ilog, Mamburao and Paluan. They had to return to Batangas to take the “Super Cat” to Calapan port (Mindoro Oriental) so they could continue to Lazareto, Naujan West, Naujan East, and San Teodoro.

The trip to Romblon was more risky, taking the 12- to 14-hour boat ride in the Montenegro Lines (from Batangas port) or the cargo barge (batil). The latter is a cargo barge where they slept on cots packed tight on the upper deck, while pigs, chicken, and goats, as well as charcoal and other products were loaded on the lower deck. The trip to Palawan takes 22 hours by Super Ferry from Port Area Manila with another two hours of rough roads to the school sites of Puerto Princesa, Narra, and Roxas.

Funds for upkeep of the ‘prepared environment’

Although most of the schools are in very rural areas, parents’ attendance during the orientation were rated 80 to 90 percent. In Calapan, the more interior schools like Naujan East, recently flooded, could not afford the monthly P25 contribution. Thirty minutes away, but closer to Calapan, Naujan West parents willingly paid P25 monthly and were even willing to raise funds.

The parents’ contributions provide maintenance fund for the “prepared environment”, which included furniture and numerous materials recorded on three pages.

Paying tuition fees ranging from P100 to P350 for DSWD Pagsasarili preschools is an acceptable practice unlike the preschools of the Department of Education.

They do not feel poor anymore. It is worth it!’

About 80 to 90 percent of parents attend the orientation at the beginning of classes. A grandmother exclaimed, “Ang aking apo ay nag-iingles na, parang anak mayaman.” A mother noted, “Parang dalaga na ang aking anak, laging ayos. Kahit pag-uwi niya, hindi gusot ang kanyang damit at ayos ang buhok niya.”

In Naujan West, the students of the traditional preschool flocked to the Pagsasarili classes, so the Division Superintendent merged the two classrooms into one and made the untrained teacher assist the trained teacher.

The children in the new DepEd Pagsasarili preschools give the impression they are from exclusive private schools.

(For more information or reaction, please e-mail at or–Preciosa S. Soliven, Philippine Star

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