DAVAO ASSOCIATION OF CATHOLIC SCHOOLS, INC.
Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines-XI
Regional Assembly, July 21, 2023
President’s Report for SY 2022-2023
Br. Noelvic H. Deloria, SC
It must be with some relief that we concluded the schoolyear 2022-2023. For just as the World Health Organization (WHO) removed COVID-19 from the list of public health emergencies, our national government followed suit and is about to lift the country’s public health emergency status. All these signal that we are on our way to normalization of economic activities and in our personal and social lives.
However, it is not a return to pre-pandemic environment but a new way and perspective of doing business, thanks to the hard lessons of the global pandemic. Nothing in the recent human history has taught us severely that every part of our human existence, but especially of nature, affects our very own survival. It took an invisible germ to lay waste whatever human organization can achieve or technology can create. Nothing more virulent has made us realize our common humanity and our shared future – one that has become even more complex and uncertain.
The global pandemic might be receding as concern, but now we are experiencing the dire effects of international conflicts that are far from our shores. Closer to home, we are party to a volatile maritime conflict with and among powerful nations placing our country in a very risky political situation. On top of these, we all suffer the worsening impact of climate change and environmental disasters.
Threats and uncertainties still loom in the horizon.
But against this global backdrop, as people of God, we are called to journey together and to be faithful to our mission of collaborating with the Lord Jesus, using all our gifts and strengths in proclaiming to this troubled world the good news of the Kingdom of God, restoring union of God and people, renewing the whole of creation, our common home, bringing peace and salvation to all.
As Church we are invited to live in synodality towards communion, participation and mission.
DACS, as a communion of Catholic schools in the dioceses of Davao, Digos, Tagum and Mati, responds to that invitation to a synodal way as we declare our mission to accompany the Catholic educational institutions to become effective instruments in education and evangelization.
This has been our guiding light in all the directions, programs and activities that DACS has pursued through a period of transition and adjustment coming from the trying times of the pandemic.
Here are the DACS highlights in 2022-2023:
- On the actions of the DACS Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees was able to meet for two (2) regular meetings and three (3) special meetings to discuss policy directions and priority programs. The Board has passed a total of thirteen (13) resolutions, two (2) major position papers and a letter to the Philippine President.
The Board adopted policies for office management to ensure fiscal prudence and manage our cash assets through stable and profitable investments. Our audited financial statement shows a comfortable margin.
- On the culmination of the DACS 60th Foundation Year
From February 2022 to February 23, 2023 we celebrated our sixtieth (60th) foundation year as a regional association of Catholic schools, colleges and universities.
Our beginnings, development and expansion as government registered organization and as regional arm of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines have been well documented in a book entitled, “Stewards of Excellence” written by Br. Karl Gaspar, CSsR and co-published by DACS and the Ateneo de Davao University.
We enjoin everyone to have copies of the book in your school libraries for future generations to read about how Catholic education has taken root in Mindanao and how it has contributed to the formation and education of its peoples.
- On Sports Development
DACS has successfully hosted the 9th CEAP Mindanao Games last April 17-21, 2023. It was participated by 2000 athletes and coaches from regions 9, 10, 11, 12 and Caraga Region.
The sports program of DACS is envisioned to go full swing by next school year so that we revive the enthusiasm for sports among students and school personnel to promote mental and emotional health in our schools.
A proposal is being studied for DACS to hold sports events with teams from the Catholic schools in the ASEAN countries.
- On DACS Advocacies
Our DACS Advocacy Commission continued to meet almost weekly to tackle urgent educational, social, political and environmental issues and recommended courses of action.
A letter was sent to President Marcos expressing support to his crusade for an agricultural revolution in the Philippine but only if food sufficiency enjoyed preferential treatment and mining be not allowed in critical watersheds. We also recommended a thorough review of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 (RA 7094) vs. the more responsible Alternative Minerals Management Bill that has been pending in Congress for quite a while.
A DACS position paper was drafted and sent to the Department of Education taking exception to Department Order No. 34 stopping the use of blended and online learning when some private schools find these effective and have invested heavily on facilities for online and blended delivery modes. We received a response from the Secretary of Education assuring us that the Department was aware of the situation of private schools and would be more flexible about the use of different modes of learning delivery.
In October 2022, a DACS letter was sent to Congressman Mark Go expressing objection to House Bill No. 991 which contained provisions encroaching on the academic freedom of higher educational institutions. The letter called for new legislations that not only enhances the academic freedom of higher learning but also forges greater complementation between public and private HEIs.
Last November 24, 2022 DACS advocacy commission in collaboration with the Ateneo de Davao University launched a program and forum
for the Mindanao Week of Peace under the theme: “Enduring Peace:
Mindanawons living in Solidarity, Service and Security towards a
Sustainable Future.” It was attended by school administrators, students, representatives of Muslim groups, Indigenous Peoples, the military, Catholic and Evangelical church clerics.
To mark the National Zero Waste Month last January 2023, DACS supported Ecoteneo and Assumption College of Davao for an Eco-fair gathering 100 composting practitioners and youth to visit the city landfill and a model facility for composting food wastes. The activity agenda included a forum on the implementation of the Plastics-free policy of Davao City.
In February 4, 2023, DACS funded a gathering of youth leaders where a Project Pitching segment provided DACS participating schools to present project proposals on sustainable campus-based solutions to environmental issues.
In its meeting last March 3, the DACS Board adopted a position paper expressing opposition to the initiative to change the Philippine Constitution as it endangers the social justice provisions of the constitution. In line with this the Advocacy Commission planned to formulate a primer on constitutional change and organize a forum with political science teachers to discuss this.
Last April 25, 2023 the DACS Advocacy Group organized a Water Resource Conference that was participated in by government agencies, water resource experts, civil society, teachers and students. The activity aimed to gain a wider understanding of the water situation amidst the climate crisis and to contribute to the preparation of an Integrated Water Management Plan (IWMP) beginning with our context as academic and research institutions.
The DACS BOT Position Paper against SB 1359 which prohibits the “No Permit -No Exam Policy” was submitted to the CEAP National Secretariat last April 13, 2023. This was adopted on the conviction that access to the educational services of private schools is not for free and that those who freely avail of their services must freely pay their obligations. Otherwise, private education, an integral part of the Philippines system of education, will die.
Lastly on advocacy, the DACS Board sent a letter to President Ferdinand R. Marcos on Navigating the Tensions between the United States and China with Sobriety, Peace, and a Commitment to the Common Good.
The letter reminded the President that environmental sustainability must be prioritized and that collaborating with the international community and regional partners to address environmental concerns, such as climate change and the preservation of marine resources, is crucial. Promoting sustainable practices benefits not only the environment but also contributes to long-term stability and the common good.
- On Collaboration with the Catholic Education Association of the Philippines
The DACS President as Regional Trustee continues to regularly represent DACS to the Board of the CEAP. Recently, yours truly has been appointed as the Chairperson of the National Advocacy Commission. This responsibility reinforces our local advocacy efforts and vigilance in addressing urgent educational and social issues affecting our schools and the Philippine society.
We are proud to receive the news from the National CEAP that our own nominee Dr. Ma Iris A. Melliza, has been chosen as this year’s recepient of the Catholic School Heroes Award. Join me in congratulating Dr. Melliza who for several terms has served as President and member of the DACS Board.
- On Laudato Si Program for Integral Ecology.
Adopted as a program for all DACS members, the Laudato Si Program was launched last February 5, 2022. It enjoins DACS schools to adopt a private or public land to be reforested with aendemic trees for the next five (5) years.
For the first year of implementation, submitted reports from only 18 DACS schools showed that we have planted in a combined area of 32 hectares, a total of 16,902 fruit and forest trees but only 8,527 have survived. It is still a long way to go to reach our goal of 175,000 trees.
I ask every DACS school to give time and effort on this project and to submit your annual report on surviving trees so that as an association we could contribute to the global campaign of reversing greenhouse effect and stall global warming.
- On DACS Representation in and Accreditation by Government Bodies
DACS continues to be ably represented in the Regional Development Council in Region XI, the highest economic policy making body in the Region. We also remain to be a member of good-standing with the Association of Foundations. Locally, we are member of the Watershed Management Committee of Davao City which oversees the protection of our watersheds.
Just this month, we have just received our accreditation as a local CPD provider for Professional Teachers by the Professional Regulation Commission. This gives DACS the privilege of providing development programs required for the renewal of licenses of teachers.
With these, I thank you all for your support to our organization and for being with us in this Regional Assembly.
I thank as well the incumbent and outgoing officers and members of the Board of Trustees and its commissions for their commitment and shared leadership.
I thank the staff for their services.
May we as community of Catholic schools continue to walk together, to encourage and listen to one another, to collaborate and serve and help another and above all to pray for one another, for our country and its leaders.