By: Vicki Perez
Dipolog City – Being a teacher was all I ever wanted to be. But it wasn’t that simple. That joy tended to be buried in the struggle of the teacher, who is weighed down by the workload made more difficult by poor working conditions. So I joined the teachers’ union, a moderate one that advocated for dialogue, consultation and cooperation. It was more of a battle against the amalgam of timidity, apathy, ignorance, and sense of helplessness among the members.
I eventually became a Schools Division Superintendent. I jumped fence from labor to management at the prodding of my father, who admonished: “It is your duty to clean up your corner of the world”.
Vicki Perez took her oath of office as Schools Division Superintendent before DepEd undersecretary Ramon Bacani in 2009.
In management, I could do more than I could when I was with labor. But even then, there were many constraints. Systems changes were easy compared to changing the mindsets of people. When CheckMySchool (CMS) came to be, I eagerly grabbed the opportunity for partnership seeing it as a platform for all school stakeholders to work together. The partnership was an advantage.
We can all be blindsided by our own perspectives. Being an education official, I could see more the totality of the Schools Division, and priorities are set according to urgency, number of learners affected, and cost – to deliver services for the greatest good to the greatest number. As a consequence, small, distant schools are pushed down in the list of priorities. CMS gave me an alternative view. This civic partnership allowed me to see what the system could not make me not see or perhaps failed to consider. It takes feeling and compassion to understand the condition of distant schools, which a system is not capable of.
Now that I have retired, my father’s words still ring in my ears: “It is your duty to clean up your corner of the world”.
CheckMySchool is another opportunity for me to be of service to the sector I love from the very beginning. Volunteering for this civic initiative is now full circle for me, from labor, to management, to non-government.
With coordinators from Mindanao and SDS Elena Borcillo from Cagayan de Oro, former SDS Vicki attended CheckMySchool public presentation in DepEd this year.
I hope to draw in the stakeholders to actively engage and take ownership in the building of the future of the next generation through a better understanding of the situation. I will pursue a certain focus in my contribution to the CMS mission, that is, the geographically isolated and disadvantaged schools.
To paraphrase a saying, those who have less in life should have more in education.