Books and school buildings alone do not make a learned child. Bulacan learned this the hard way when results of the National Education Achievement Test (NEAT) given to public elementary school students came back with horrendous results.
In 2000, a typical student from Bulacan showed a report card that would make his mother weep: a rating of 39.40% in Math and a slightly better 40.23% in English. The national averages were hardly any better at 50% and 52% but with this dismal performance, Bulakeño students were already scraping the bottom of the pan.
Jolted to its feet, the provincial government turned the educational system inside out to determine what’s causing poor reading, computational skills, and dismal comprehension in Bulacan’s 496 schools. They found out a crucial cog to a child’s learning wheel was missing: the parents.
“Parents take the first responsibility to educate their children, not the teachers, not DepEd,” said Governor Josefina M. dela Cruz.
Project JOSIE (for Joint Systems Improvement in Education) was thus launched in February 2001 to address the issue. It had two objectives: improve learning competency in English and improve computational and comprehension skills in Math.
The project covered elementary school students from grades 1 to 6. From 2001 to 2004, it required P35 million in funding from the provincial government and grants.
A special workbook was developed for students, written by the teachers themselves. The books were designed to match local needs and cost only P23 compared to P120 in commercial bookstores.
Parents and teachers were linked in an organization called SAMAKKA (Samahan ng mga Magulang sa Karunungan at Kabutihan).
The 2003 NEAT results showered remarkable improvement in learning performance: 76% in reading skills and 72% in comprehension skills; and 82% in computational skills and 71.5% in mathematical comprehension skills.
Despite political wrangling in the province, Gov. dela Cruz is confident the project will outlive her term of office.
“Politicians will always listen to the people’s demands. Whoever succeeds me cannot ignore this project,” she said. “This is one project that has moved on its own in spite and despite me.”
This program is recognized as one of the Ten Outstanding Programs in the 2005 Galing Pook Awards.