PAHRODF Case Studies

Results Story 5:  Superintendents’ Leadership Programme

Changing Perspectives and Mindsets

To move forward, change is necessary. This is what Dr. Jojo Fadul, the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Division Superintendent for Davao del Norte seems to have learned from what has transpired in her organisation in the last few years.“If we do not accept change, then we will not be moving forward. We will not be growing. We will not be going anywhere. It will just be a big waste of resources, a big waste of energy,” she exclaims.

With a new administration and many new ideas being introduced such as the K-12 programme, the rationalisation plan and collaborative learnings among others, the past 2 to3 years have been tumultuous for her and many others in DepEd. Though it may be a slow burn, she and other fellow-superintendents have finally “seen the light”.

Thanks to the intervention programme provided by the Philippine Australia Human Resource and Organisational Development Facility (PAHRODF) for 50 Division Superintendents and pushed for by the DepEd Undersecretary, what once was difficult to understand and accept finally became clear. This allowed her and others in the Department to finally embrace, if not, buy into what was being put forth by the new team of DepEd officials.

Many of the changes being implemented brought fear and anxiety to DepEd personnel.  As with anything new, resistance is always there.  But listening to how Dr. Fadul talks about it, resistance to change was at an alarmingly high level then. To begin with, the situation was complicated by the vastly different approaches between them and the new administration. As Dr. Fadul puts it, “Basically they had difficulty convincing us. It’s transition period - the old set of officers of DepEd, because of the change of administration, almost all of them were gone. They were replaced by new ones, and then the new ones brought a different culture because they came from the academe, private universities.” That in itself brought conflict as there was a clash in terms of procedures and expectations. Coupled by the fact that there seemed to be some built in distrust of the old personnel by the new ones, their ranks were put on the defensive.

According to Dr.Fadul, while the new administration personnel may have judged them harshly because of some perceived underhanded dealings during the previous administration, she feels it was unfair to generalise and judge them all in that manner. Though they didn’t hear these hurtful comments from the higher ups, they heard them from staff members. “So nasasaktan din kami every time. Kung makalait lait sa mga teachers and mga principals, ganoon na lang.” (“So we too get hurt every time -the way they bash the teachers and principals at will.”) With some exceptions, Dr. Fadul says that their people are also hard workers. Hence, she could not help but stand up in their defence when needed. She stresses that there are still many like her, who are just there to genuinely serve, without counting the cost.

Intervention needed

With so much contention and doubt going on, and given a rather unreceptive employee base, she feels that it was difficult for the new administration to proceed with their plans. This, she thinks, is what necessitated intermediaries - neutral, credible third parties that they could believe and trust, who could set the platform for these reforms.  PAHRODF and the LSPs (Learning Service Providers) became such intermediaries.

Characterised as “professional”, in the eyes of Dr. Fadul, PAHRODF’s credibility is unassailable. “I see how it is being run and they are no non-sense. Black is black, white is white. I like it. Very professional and this is also how I would like every organisation to be run. Kung quality, quality talaga sila. (If it’s quality, they have quality.) And they really mean business.” This same view also seemed to cascade to the LSPs whom she tagged as providing relevant content with quality instructors at a conducive venue. “They coached us and really squeezed out from us how this intervention could be a big help in raising the quality and efficiency of our services,” she says.

Meant to strengthen the superintendents’ role to bridge the gap between the central office and the school administrators and teachers, a 12-module Superintendents’ Leadership Programme (SLP) was conducted. It was supposed to run for a year from October 2012 until September 2013, but due to various holidays and “busy months” like graduation, local elections and enrollment, this stretched on until February 2014. With this intervention, little by little, the walls between them and the new DepEd administration started to come down.

She admits that initially, her reason for wanting to attend the intervention was for her to be present to defend her people. “I wanted to find out ano ba talaga ang gusto nilang mangyari so I can defend my men. Kasi masakit na eh. Change nga of administration. Masakit magtrabaho, it does not feel good working when you are suspected of not doing everything. Tatamad-tamad kayo diyan, masakit. (I want to find out what it is that they expect so I can defend my men. It hurts. It’s a change of administration. It is painful to work and it does not feel good working if you are suspected of not doing everything. That you are just being lazy. It hurts.) So I’d like to be there so that whatever negative criticisms that they might throw, whether it’s for my division or for other divisions, I could speak up for them,” she explains.

She also wanted to understand better what the new administration wished to implement, especially the K-12 programme and the rationalisation plan. With DepEd officials coming in from time to time to link their talks to the modules discussed, things started getting clearer. Also, with the higher ups visibly involved, though quietly and inconspicuously just sitting at the back, this impressed upon her the fact that they sincerely wanted to get the participants’ no-holds bar viewpoints. Slowly but surely, with the help of facilitators who painstakingly and skilfully handled the issues, they began to see where DepEd was headed. “What we see in them, the organisers, the ones running the programme, the Secretary, the Undersecretary up to the presenters of the modules - the sincerity, it touched our hearts. It’s not only the brain and the mind but it touched our hearts,” she recalls.

Laying principles on the line

Handling her Re-Entry Action Plan, an integral part of the intervention program meant to carry forward her learnings to help address the gaps in her organization, Dr. Fadul relates that she also encountered resistance from her team. Focusing on clinical supervision, her team questioned why this was necessary as it was very similar to the teacher observations that they had in place. So, to further get them to understand how the programme has been “refined”, Dr. Fadul had to run a one-week orientation similar to what she experienced with PAHRODF. Although this helped most to understand, she admits that they could not get 100% to accept the programme.

Nevertheless, Dr.Fadul plugged on. While clinical supervision is basically about ensuring quality learning and efficiency by giving technical assistance to school administrators on how to be instructional supervisors to their teachers, she was also driven to sit in during the classroom sessions. Motivated by a burning desire to understand why their students were doing so poorly year in and year out in the National Achievement Test (NAT) despite all their efforts, she became very hands on, especially as she felt there was probably still some underlying reason.

True enough, what she discovered proved her hunch to be correct. The content being taught was erroneous. “They were just concentrating on the procedure, on the strategy to the detriment of the content.” Being a math expert, she points out fundamental mistakes, citing that simple equations taught were wrong. Undetected by the school principal, this apparently went on for more than 10 years.

Aghast at her discovery, Dr. Fadul says she had to speak up about this, at the risk of violating clinical procedures. She discloses, “Hindi nakita ng principal so my heart bleeds. Ma-offend sila at ma-offend but then so be it. Ngayon ang paraan lang nai-point out ko lang na something must be done.”(“The principal never noticed that so my heart bleeds. They can get offended, so be it. Now is the only chance to point out that something must be done.”) She continues, “They may accuse me of violating the essence of the clinical supervision but I firmly believe that it’s useless - we will be wasting our efforts, resources, if we end the day without touching on this part.”

Passionately, Dr.Fadul emphasises that though clinical supervision should only be confined to the technical procedures, she could not let it pass. “It is tantamount to telling the teacher, everything is all right. Everything is fine, nothing is wrong to the detriment of the children.” It would be a grave injustice to the children and the parents if she did not speak up. “That is just in one school, one teacher. You can just multiply that by the number of students every day na tinuturo ganun (taught that way).”

As a result of her findings, they have put corrective measures and have now been monitoring the results of NAT for the past 3 years until 2015 to determine if scores have improved. Although it may still be too early to tell, she feels that somehow this is making a dent as scores have already slightly improved. “I am just keeping my fingers crossed that that increase will continue with this kind of intervention that we are doing,” she maintains.

Owing it to the students, Dr. Fadul remains committed to see the delivery of quality education through. Making reference to what the Secretary of DepEd told them, she emphasises, “Parang we’re in a war front and sila lang ang nagbibigay ng command from the central office. (It’s like we’re in a war front and they are giving us commands from the central office.) There are things that still need to be done. Just consider that this is not for anyone - not for the secretary, not for the chief but for the love of our children.” With a more positive appreciation now of what DepEd is trying to accomplish and her dedication to the students in her province, the future looks bright for the youth of Davao del Norte.

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