La Union’s San Fernando City visited Balanga City on September 28 and 29 in an attempt to study and replicate this city’s best educational practices.
Almost 90 Department of Education (DepED) personnel came to the city where Mr. Rodolfo De Mesa, city administrator and tourism officer, welcomed them at La Vista Inland Resort.
San Fernando’s DepED officials paid particular attention to the city’s effort in merging education and technology. Ms. Nenette B. Santos, city management information services officer, introduced the city’s technology-oriented projects to San Fernando’s delegates.
San Fernando is Balanga City’s confrere in the Performance Governance System (PGS) a good governance framework that the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA) devised. Like Balanga City, San Fernando is also implementing strategic projects outside its usual local government mandates.
Just recently, Balanga and San Fernando were both delegates in the Synergia’s National Education Summit.
San Fernando’s delegates visited Balanga’s local economic enterprises, especially the Public Market which has been a model for other local government units (LGUs) after it earned a P26.78-million net income in 2012.
Then, the delegates inspected the interactive kiosks at the Pocket Parks. Balanga City regards these kiosks as its breakthrough project, since no other LGU has ever done such.
San Fernando City’s visit also coincided with the agricultural trade fair at Plaza Mayor. Various community cooperatives showcased their products, most of which were produced organically.
The delegates also visited the three Barangay Learning Hubs (BLH) in Doña Francisca, Cupang Proper, and Cataning, respectively. These Learning Hubs are Mayor Francis Anthony S. Garcia’s brainchild, and were especially designed for out-of-school learning.
Now the Learning Hubs are being replicated among Balanga’s schools. One Learning Hub facility has been built at the City of Balanga National High School (COBNHS). The school version of the Learning Hub now serves as a speech laboratory for COBNHS’s call center talent development.
Before the delegates left, they attended Mass at St. Joseph’s Cathedral, a building that witnessed most of the atrocities in Balanga during World War II.
A City of Wonders
Visitors from San Fernando City remarked that Balanga is a role model for LGUs that are aiming for genuine reforms.
The visitors were particularly satisfied with Balanga’s University Town vision. They lauded the efforts of the city government to create a university town atmosphere by relocating houses of ill refute.
Since San Fernando City’s delegates were mostly teachers, they were delighted to know that the city government distributed laptop computers to its public school teachers. Under the Teachnology Program, 306 teachers received high-end laptop computers from former mayor Jose Enrique S. Garcia, III.
San Fernando City also attributed Balanga’s success to PGS. Last June 10, Balanga City was the first LGU that received the Gold Trailblazer Award from ISA, a recognition of its efforts in transformative governance. By Arli Joshua Atienza