Washington Sycip’s 90th Birthday Wish: That all Filipino Children finish basic education

Nov 4, 2011

by Mike Baños

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Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental – During a program dedicated to him for his 90th birthday, philanthropist and industrialist Washington B. SyCip made a birthday wish for the country’s children.

“I am honored that this program is dedicated to me,” M. SyCip said during dedication rites held July 21st at the Tagoloan Elementary School. “My only wish is that all you children could finish education and all Filipino children can finish school.”

Mr. SyCip is a Chinese-Filipino accountant, founder of the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) and SyCip Gorres Velayo and Company (SGV). He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Synergeia Foundation, which aims to deliver quality basic education through “collaborative responsibility’ by transforming local school boards into agents of effective community participation to involve not just the schools but also the parents, community leaders and local government officials.

Dr. Bodo Goerlich Dr. Bodo Goerlich, President and CEO of Energy-firm Steag State Power Inc. presents one of the Synergeia Workbooks to Washington SyCip during the launch of the Tagoloan Reading and English Proficiency Program. [Also in photo: Tagoloan Mayor Paulino Emano, Xavier University President Fr. Roberto Yap. (behind them are: Steag GmbH Management Board Member Dr. Ralf Gilgen and Steag GmbH Lead Manager for International Power Plants Dr. Peter Weiss)

Mr. SyCip said his role was merely to bring Synergeia to SPI and the real honoree should have been Dr. Milwida “Nene” M. Guevara, Synergeia president and CEO.

Dr. Bodo Goerlich, president and CEO of STEAG State �Power Inc. (SPI), said they chose to dedicate the launching program of the Tagoloan Reading and English Proficiency Program to Mr. SyCip because of his lifelong advocacy for excellent education.

“SPI’s humble contribution to our collective efforts in helping bring about the positive changes has been inspired by the passion and vision of a man who led us to do our share,” Dr. Goerlich said. “Dr. Washington SyCip, champion of excellent education, our mentor and friend — to whom we dedicate this Reading Program.”

Although coming from a well-to-do family, Mr. SyCip’s father Albino insisted his children be educated in public schools and started them at the Burgos Elementary School in 1927 where most of his classmates were native Filipinos. Both his parents were highly educated and promoted academic excellence. Mr. SyCip and his brothers were compelled by his father to walk to school or ride the trolley bus instead of the family car.

“I believe that quality education is a right, not a privilege,” Mr. SyCip said. “The education of every Filipino child is the responsibility of all, not just the school, but the parents, and the community in general.”

SPI’s Reading and English Proficiency Program has made impressive inroads to improving the performance of students in 11 public elementary schools in its host town of Villanueva, Misamis Oriental where it started in 2007 leading to its eventual expansion for a second phase to include Tagoloan.

“The program aims to strengthen one of the important foundations in the learning process which is Reading and English Proficiency,” said Ma. Teresa R. Alegrio, community relations manager for SPI directly charged with the program. “Studies show students’ low academic performance is mainly attributed to difficulties in reading and comprehension.”

grades 1-3 school children in 10 public elementary schools of Tagoloan

The program would benefit over 3,000 grades 1-3 school children in 10 public elementary schools of Tagoloan. Program components includes training of teachers in teaching reading, provision of workbooks and teaching manuals, capability-building for the local school board and the parents-teachers association.

“Prior to the program, eight out of 10 Grade 1 pupils had difficulties in reading; .05 were slow readers, 0.33 were non-readers, only about .10 had reading skills appropriate to their grade and only two considered advanced readers,” Ms. Alegrio said.

By the end of the first year, non-readers dropped from 30.0% to 5.33% with four students out of 10 already reading at their appropriate level. By the end of year 2, the number of non-readers was down to 4.17% from 11.60% with the number of independent readers rising from 3.0 percent to almost 19.0 percent.

By year end 2010, non-readers were down to 1.9% from 4.6% and advanced readers increased from 9.59 percent to 39.51 percent.

Most significant perhaps, grade three students had increased their Mean Percentage Score (MPS) in the 2010 National Achievement Test (NAT) for English after three years under the program by almost 13% points in Reading and almost 14% points in Grammar. Their average scores in the NAT were up to 82.47% in grammar and 72.11% in Reading, well clear of the 65% national average.

“These positive improvements inspired us to continue giving more to society and SPI re-affirms its commitment to our host communities in Tagoloan by increasing our social investments in the areas of education, environment and health to P2.69 million to support various education programs in this town in the next three years, “Dr. Goerlich said. “This amount represents about 40% of our planned social investments for this community of around P6.74 million.”

“What we hope to achieve in the next three years is an improvement in the reading and English proficiency of our students hoping they will have better grasp of equally important subjects like science and mathematics,” Dr. Goerlich added. “Ultimately, we want our students to excel in these fields and for them to be more prepared as they aspire to become more globally competitive.”

“Business plays an important role in helping secure quality of education for the future of our children,” Mr. SyCip added. “I thank Steag for its meaningful contribution to the development of the people in its host communities.”

SPI spearheads the Tagoloan Reading and English Proficiency Program in cooperation with the Local Government of Tagoloan, the Department of Education and the Synergeia Foundation.

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