Transformative Education in ADDU towards the Common Good

Welcome to the Second Semester of SY 2014-15! I welcome especially my brother Jesuit and friend, Fr. Patrick Riordan, S.J., from Ireland and Heythrop College in London!

In my leadership of this university, I have always found inspiration in our Vision and Mission Statement. It is the soul of our university. In many of my conversations with you as groups and individuals, I have been happy to note that you too are inspired by this statement. It is the statement that we crafted together at the outset of my presidency out of a deep sense of who we are as a community – or, universitas – and how we must impact on our world today.

We are a university that is Catholic, Jesuit, and Filipino; we are first a university that seeks truth in academic freedom, but as Catholic, is privileged to preside over the tension between knowing Jesus as the Truth and the existential need in this world to search for truth; as Jesuit, appropriates for our university and ourselves individually the Jesuit mission and Ignatian spirituality; as Filipino, prepares students to benefit from and engage the global world.

As this university, we understand ourselves missioned to such as leadership formation, the promotion of the faith that does justice, cultural sensitivity and transformation, to inter-cultural and inter religious dialogue, the promotion of communities of peace and human well-being, the promotion of social justice, gender equality, good governance, the creation of wealth and its equitable distribution, environmental protection, the promotion of renewable energy, and leadership in Philippine educational reform.

I. What we transform

Another way of looking at this in the framework of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, to which we belong, is that we are engaged in transformative education. Pulled towards the “fullness of life” that Jesus came to give us (cf. John 10:10), a fullness that is not merely in an eschatological heavenly banquet beyond death, but a fullness that is already demanded by the encounter with Jesus Christ in this world this side of death, our university works now for that fullness. Thus, no matter how imperfect this fullness might be in this earthy, confusing, distressing world of love and hatred, friends and enemies, talent and limitation, integrity and corruption, conflict and violence, war and peace, where human beings horrified at what human beings do to others in each encounter with the daily news, still share meals together, share bodily warmth and spiritual passion together, raise children together, work out community together in a city like Davao or in a university as ours, and, find truth in a good glass of wine and liberty in truth – in vino veritas and in veritate libertas! The truth we seek as a university is not just what is hidden in our libraries, nor forgotten in our collective memories, nor unlocked in acquired professional skills, but that which this side of eternity achieves through social cooperation the “fullness of life” – the fullness of human flourishing – no matter how incomplete that fullness or flourishing may today have to be. That “fullness of life” may also be referred to – even by those who do not know Jesus – as “the common good,” shaped by social justice.

Transformative education works on the transformation of the status quo towards the achievement of the common good or the “fullness of life” – already in this world. The ADDU Vision-Mission statement suggests we do this not as isolated individuals but as whole community – universitas – or “whole school” addressing concerns of transformation through our instruction, research and community engagement and advocacy. We are sensitive to a disjoint between “what is” and “what ought to be.” “What is” vs. the “fullness of life” calling for transformation includes the ignorance that is dehumanizing, the ignorance that does not allow a person to participate productively in society, the ignorance of the depths of the human person-in-society and the responsibility of human persons for humane society, the real and institutional constraints against searching fully and freely for truth, darkness in the quest for God, confusion in the ways humans relate to their God, ignorance in understanding and utilizing nature, shortsightedness in the destruction of our water systems, our biodiversity, our ozone layer, woundedness in persons using other persons for selfish ends or in bringing death and violence on other persons for unjust purposes. It includes the richness of local cultures and local ecological systems vitiated by an insatiable consumerist global culture, using sources of energy that harm the globe. It also includes ways of education that are inefficient and outdated.

At the beginning of this academic year we said that we would focus on the Bangsamoro issue. As we have accompanied or even participated – mainly through our Al Qalam Institute – in the process that has moved from a Framework Agreement Bangsamoro (FAB) to a Comprehensive AgreeCAB to a draft BBL, we have tried to transform the ignorance of many of our students or many of our publics about the nature of the Bangsamoro struggle, its historical antecedents, at least to a point where they can responsibly support or not support a specific Bangsamoro Basic Law. The BBL itself says that the purpose of the law is to establish a “political entity” in “recognition of the justness and legitimacy of the cause of the Bangsamoro people and their aspiration to chart their political future through a democratic process that will secure their identity and posterity and allow for meaningful self-governance” (Art. 1, Sec 3). That was a cause that had broken out in violent conflict and war. The healing conversation is ongoing as enactment of the BBL into law is now pending in Congress; we are urged to continue to be part of that conversation. ADDU will soon be coming out with a volume of commentaries on the BBL, the Law-School community has done a detailed analysis of each of the sections which shall be published, and the Pakighinabi series on the BBL will continue. Al Qalam has become a known resource in shedding light on Bangsamoro issues. In all these activities, however, ADDU as a school has sought to help transform a culture of discrimination and marginalization against various types of Filipino Muslim peoples into a situation where the injustice of the past is owned by the nation and the Bangsamoro is given the chance in freedom and self-governance to prosper as Filipinos.

Meanwhile, ADDU’s transformative education has not relinquished a parallel focus on transforming the current culture of abusive environmental exploitation resulting in destructive climate change. Our Environmental Science Program focuses on the atmosphere as a major concern. With the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), what we all experience has been underscored. The climate has changed. The ADDU Environmental Science Program studies what this means for Mindanao, particularly in terms of water and air, as this impacts on such as water supply, agriculture, food security, flooding, hydroelectric power generation, crops and human well-being. With anthropology, environmental science has worked on the watersheds and river systems of Mindanao, providing further warrant for our opposition to large-scale mining in South Cotabato, even as today there seems to be renewed efforts towards such mining despite the staunch opposition of the B’laan people and the Church. Even as the nation deliberates on the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the Al Qalam is working with Dr. Gus Gatmaytan towards the preservation of the largest marsh in the Philippines, the Liguawasan Marsh, and the heritage and rights of its indigenous peoples.

ADDU’s transformative education has also sought to “lead in Philippine educational reform – especially for the peoples of Southern Philippines.” We continue to participate in the transformation of the educational landscape. We have staunchly supported the K-12 reform. Through our School of Education, the untiring work of Dean Gina Montalan, the Basic Education Committee, Mr. Rikki Enriquez, (whom I am proposing to the Board tomorrow to lead our Senior High School), we have successfully pioneered in the implementation of this reform beginning with our own integrated curriculum reform. Through the CEAP, we have become a leading light in the national conversation on how K-12 must be implemented. Locally, however, in Region XI, through close collaboration between DACS and the DepED, we are leading in the effort towards an integrated implementation of SHS among public and private schools.

On the national level, the transformation of the educational landscape has moved us into a more focused effort to articulate the meaning of the “complementarity” between public and private schools as envisioned by the Constitution. As government development of public schools both on the basic and the tertiary levels has become more aggressive, the need to rationally clarify the meaning of the “cooperation” between private and public schools becomes more urgent. Otherwise, the powerful hand of government wielding taxpayers’ money for public schools will kill the private schools that operate primarily from income from tuition and fees. Our position is that collaboration between public and private schools on the basis of their complementary contributions to public educational outcomes or public education goods must be appreciated, affirmed and sustained. The public educational product – the engineer, the doctor, the manager, the teacher – is valuable to society, whether it comes from a private or a public school. Meanwhile, the broad-based public educational system providing mass access to education with uniformly taught programs nationwide must be complemented by private schools with smaller constituencies that are more flexible, creative and innovative. In this manner, the wide accessibility of public schools will check the costs of selective accessibility, and the innovativeness of private schools will check the lugubriousness of established public school programs. The private schools may also provide a stable alternative to the proneness of public schools to political meddling, corruption and academic degeneration. In appreciating and affirming the complementarity between public and private schools, taxpayers’ money for education should be more equitably distributed between public and private schools. Such public support for the public educational products of private schools could directly offset tuition paid to access private schools.

In this context, ADDU through its support of Congressman Roman Romulo’s Bill on Quality Assurance (QA, HB 3993), continues to seek to free the educational landscape of the ill-advised CMO 46 s 2012 on “Outcomes- and Typology-Based Quality Assurance” which offends against academic freedom. We are not against serious QA. We support it. Our active endorsement of Romulo’s Bill on QA attests to that. But we believe quality assurance must be based on a shared understanding that Q involves four essential components: (a) government-set minimum standards, (b) indicators of excellence over and against minimum standards, (c) the implementation by the school of its “purpose” or its vision and mission, and (d) its responsiveness to its stakeholders. CMO 46 only recognizes (b) indicators of excellence and (c) fitness for purpose. This underpins a fundamental flaw in CHED policy. Its supposed “minimum standards” become standards of excellence. All beyond minimum standards are CHED prescribed, subtly erasing the academic freedom of schools, especially private schools, to innovate beyond minimum standards. This is true for engineering courses as it is true for Islamic studies. All must teach the same CHED content the CHED way. To innovate for more physics in engineering one needs the approval of CHED’s TWG; to offer Islamic Studies in ADDU, one must teach all 214 units. But why shouldn’t responsible schools be allowed beyond minimum standards to innovate according to the needs of stakeholders? Both the Constitution and RA 7722 insist on academic freedom for higher education through the establishment of “minimum standards” – not the cooptation of academic freedom through optimum standards. Where HEIs do not meet minimum standards, CHED should close them. But where HEI’s meet minimum standards their exercise of academic freedom should be celebrated. Here, the complementarity between public and private schools might be better appreciated.

Through our VM, our transformative education targets many different areas of transformation. In battling ignorance, in forming the freedom of human beings, we transform a culture of darkness into one of light. Currently, we are strongly focused on transforming the unacceptable status quo of our Filipino Muslim communities, the culture of environmental destruction, the deficient educational system and the inappropriately State-controlled (vs. reasonably regulated) higher-education culture.

II. The Transformation of the Transformers

In our transformative education, we too are transformed as educators. We the transformers are transformed. Every time we work in the classroom or in our communities towards achieving “the fullness of life” we allow that fullness to transform us. Every time we convince students that meaningful participation in attaining the common good is worthwhile, we too find ourselves more committed to that common good. Every time we find ourselves confused by the complexity of issues in running our city where rich and poor, Christian, Muslim and Lumad, entrepreneur and professional, industrialist and environmentalist must cooperate to flourish optimally together in shared community, we may suddenly find ourselves rejecting solutions that exclude segments of human society or solutions that fail to recognize significant dimension of human fullness. Every time we participate in a genuine dialogue concerning the Muslim community in Mindanao we may discover ourselves overcoming personal prejudices ingrained in ourselves since time immemorial against Muslims. Every time we teach about conserving our environment and mitigating climate change, we may discover ourselves more open to cooperating towards achieving a greener ADDU campus, and, for the good of our city, using less paper, less plastic, less Freon and walking or cycling rather than burning more fossil fuels. Every time we teach about transforming the educational landscape, we may discover ourselves more willing to accept disciplines of institutional cooperation, understanding that such cooperation enhances the ability of the school to perform according to its vision and mission. And transform. In transformative education, we transform ourselves.

The self transformation comes also in a newfound openness to the challenges of being faculty members of a university. In talking to the students about the characteristics of ADDU sui generis leadership, I have stressed that they must own being university educated; the status is forced on them neither by fate nor by birthright. They must own thinking and acting in society as educated. This is quite different from yesterday’s Marxist and Maoist ideals of being one with the uneducated consciousness of the masses. Our formative programs must help our students understand the actual misery of poverty, but never idealize the ignorance and naiveté of the unlettered. The clear understanding of ourselves as making up a university community engaged in transformative education, transforms us and the manner in which we engage ourselves in the university. Under past administrations, this university presented itself as a teaching university. The stress was on instruction. Faculty development was only for instruction. All remuneration was based on instruction. We may also have concluded that instruction defines the core of our university engagement, and all else is “extra”. But we now profess we are university people. Though the PRC has no board exam for professional university people, being a faculty member in this university thrusts us essentially also into instruction and research and outreach based on the transformative goals of the university owned in academic freedom. My understanding of how I make a living is no longer defined by a maximized teaching load for maximized remuneration. It is not just about money, as important as money is for well being. It is now defined by a need to balance the demands on my university time for instruction, research and outreach, so that I can participate optimally in the whole-university transformative education we deliver together. It means truly caring for the manner in which I teach, so that the learning outcome and competencies I am responsible for are truly achieved. It means being genuinely concerned about the manner in which students handle their freedom, their free commitment to a practiced humanity, and how they may or may not accept the challenges of the common good. It means stretching one’s self to accept the research project – or at least participate in it – that will help guide and enhance the transformative mission of the university. It means taking on the unfamiliar disciplines of the researcher to guarantee the respectability of research outputs. It means leaving the comfort zones of our university to advocate the importance of what we have discovered among policy makers in our city or in our nation, both public and private, even when in doing so we may put our lives in harm’s way – or just become unpopular or scorned. As university professionals we accept to participate in a common life with common disciplines, defined clear policies, towards the achievement together of our common good. Participating in a university implementing transformative education, the transformers cannot escape ongoing transformation.

III. The Transformation of the Institution

Finally, in transformative education, the university itself is transformed. It changes. It moves on. It was our actual re-appropriation of our VM in Eden Resort that led to the transformation of our old VM statement into the new; the re-appropriation also necessitated that the University Academic Council be complemented by the University Research Council and the University Community Engagement and Advocacy Council. Through these councils pursuing their separate but complementary roles in our transformative education, we witnessed new thrusts in academics (e.g., MS Tropical Risk Management, AB Islamic Studies, BS in Entrepreneurship Major in Agri-Business, the proposed MA in Anthropology, and significant work in preparation for the multi-disciplinary implementation of General Education), research (e.g., Mindanao water system, ongoing SWS-Type City Wide Survey) and outreach (e.g., disaster response, defense of the environment, gender sensitivity, dialogue towards peace in Mindanao, public advocacy training). Each of these councils are now governed by sophisticated policy, and the foreseen tensions between them are solved on the ground through dialogue and new policy formulation.

An important example of this is the emerging integrated Policy on Faculty Loading. This was the product of a committee composed of five faculty representatives from the University Academic Council, the President of the College Faculty Union and the AVP plus representation as needed from the HRMDO and the Finance Office that worked out the policy over six months on the following insights: that well-articulated and documented policies foster mutual trust and respect among faculty; that leadership opportunities in the school be spread out to a wider segment of our faculty in order to develop leadership in them and our community as a community of leaders; that time for rest and regeneration is important for personal and continued professional growth. Certainly, a situation where deloading and reloading and overloading is possible needs to be fixed primarily to protect the integrity of the instruction, research and community service we engage in. This emerging policy is now up for review by the Finance Office and the HRMDO prior to its consideration by the President’s Council.

We are praying also that shared concern for the integrity of the whole-university transformative education we deliver may enable us to find agreement on the terms of our new five-year CBA with our College Faculty Union, as this has already been achieved with the NTS and the GS Faculty Union, and soon, we hope, with our HS Faculty Union. Even here, I think there has been significant transformation in the relationship between the ADDU administration and the unions. In dealing with the unions, we do not relate with the evil enemy; in the unions’ dealing with the administration they do not deal with the cold oppressor. In management and labor cooperating towards our shared common good in sustainable transformative education we know that not all disagreement must lead to a “dark age”, that disagreements can be addressed and resolutions are possible through dialogue, that appropriate remuneration and benefits are helpful for our shared purposes and therefore a shared concern for unions and administration, and that the sustainability and health of the school in the service of its various publics provide the families of our employees their best security.

Let me also announce transformations in my own office. After 40-plus years of service to five presidents, we have bade farewell to Venus Rosello and have welcomed a courageous Mr. Uwe Panimdim to take her place. Beyond that, we will appoint soon a new Quality Assurance and Planning Officer in the person of Ms. Lia Esquillo, whom some of you may know. With Ms. Esquillo we will engage you in a new round of evaluation and planning for our university this summer. Internal Audit – both pre-audit and post-audit – will now be conducted from my office, and we will appoint a new Internal Auditor as soon as he can be freed from his current employment. Both Internal Auditors shall be responsible directly to me. We will finally assign Bong Eliab, who is my administrative alter-ego, as the full-time General Assistant to the President – the GAP – to distinguish him from my other assistants. In this context, my office will now take final responsibility for purchasing in the University to give Jimmy Delgado more time and space to focus on shepherding our funds.

Finally, even the physical plant is being transformed. The Jesuits are home from the Pinnacle back on campus, we now have a functioning University Guest Tract, a very useful dialogue center, and soon – before the end of this academic year (if not before the end of this calendar year), when the building is fully-powered and the bridge between the Finster Building and the CC is built securely, the college faculty may be able to move into the more generous spaces of the community center. We are firmly hoping that this year’s College Baccalaureate Mass and graduation shall be in the Sports and Assembly Hall. The Jesuit Community, by the way, is proposing that the new community center be named the Community Center of the First Companions – after the first three friends, Ignatius, Faber and Xavier – who eventually founded the Society of Jesus. The Sports and Assembly Center we propose shall be named after the French Jesuit missionary to the Hurons, John de Brebeuf. The names proposed for the floors and the lobbies, you can see in the slide. We decided that we would not propose to honor any living person: not Pope Francis nor Fr. General Nicolas, not Fr. Ting Samson nor even the revered Elvi Tamayo. But should you have your own suggestions please submit them to Bong Eliab today, as this is matter for deliberation and decision of the Board tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the St. Ignatius Spirituality Center has been blessed by the JCAP Superiors. It is ready for use primarily of our faculty and staff who wish to use it for silent, directed retreats. Since there are only a total of 36 individual cottages for retreatants, I have asked Elvi Tamayo and Sally Pabres to try to work things out with our academic officials and our retreat guides so that there may be three-day retreats scheduled every weekend. They are working on this.

I have also suggested to the Jesuit Community that the remains on the Jesuits in different niches of the public cemetary – Frs. Maravilla, Finster, Wieman, Marasigan, Balansag, Dotterwich and Malasmas – be brought home to Samal into what might be called the “Suscipe Gardens” which Archt. Jim Palma has agreed to design. This of course need not be confined to the Jesuits but may be opened to those who have long served the ADDU. In broaching this idea to Elvi Tamayo, the suggestion of his Ignition Formation Team is to share the idea with  you.

IV. We Have Been Blessed

We have not yet blessed the new Community Center. But we have been blessed with a meeting in the Community Center of the Superiors of the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific – during which the work of the Jesuits and their collaborators in Asia Pacific was discussed. We were also blessed with a meeting there of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities – during which the President of the Jesuit Conference, Fr. Mark Raper, explicitly thanked ADDU for its educational service in Taungyi, Myanmar. There too, resonating with our mission, Fr. Patxi Alvarez, Fr. General’s Delegate for Social Justice and the Environment, shared with the AJCU-AP delegates the highlights of his recently published paper on the promotion of Social Justice in Jesuit Universities, and Datu Muss Lidasan presented his views on the Bangsamoro and his hopes for Muslim Filipino peoples. Recently, in the Pakighinabi room of the dialogue center, Ms. Mags Maglona, Br. Karl Gaspar and Mr. Max Tiu shared with the Samahan leaders their experiences of resistance and imprisonment as students of ADDU against the Marcos Dictatorship that brought plunder, suffering and death to our people. This too was a profound blessing. Just as the stimulating talk of Fr. Patrick Riordan was on “The Common Good Goes Global” which challenged us further to move forward on our commitment in transformative education towards achieving the common good, the “fullness of life” that Jesus brings in the complicated history we author – also through institutions such as ours that carry out their missions in his discipleship. Just concluded was a four-day workshop on Public Advocacy working out lines of cooperation between the public advocates of all our Ateneos and our Bukidnon Parishes on issues that affect Mindanao: the BBL, the IPRA, the FOI and the forthcoming elections. Such cooperation for the common good has been unprecedented. In our new buildings, our physical plant has been transformed. But this merely physical transformation has been a result of and a boon for the ongoing work of Catholic transformative education you and I take responsibility for.

As we begin this second semester, let us come to a deeper appreciation of the transformative education in implementation of our Vision and Mission. Let us own the transformation that it brings us personally as professional university educators. Let us participate in the ongoing transformation of our University into a more powerful vehicle for transformative education. Let us continue to search for truth – even in a glass of good wine – and in the liberty to serve well that truth brings.

About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
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2 Responses to Transformative Education in ADDU towards the Common Good

  1. The aim of transformative education is to provide an appropriate educational framework including teaching and learning processes. It is defined as understanding ourselves, our self-locations, and our relationships with others in the world, thereby making the world a place to live in. The learners become actively engaged in new avenues for social justice, attainment of common good, environmental protection, etc.

    The University must set a road map to guide all the stakeholders towards true transformation.

  2. Strategic Road Map for Transformative Education: A Suggestion

    Foundation –> Changes –> Key Outcomes –> Vision & Mission

    Foundation includes:
    • Informed and and Committed Leadership
    • Strong Administration and Accountability
    • Quality Assurance, Alignment and Coordination
    • Measurement, Evaluation and Reporting

    Changes include:
    • Policies, Processes and Practices
    • People
    • Communication and Awareness
    • Technology
    • Infrastructure

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