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DepEd inspects Filipino schools in Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia - With the growing number of children of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) studying in Saudi Arabia, the Department of Education (DepEd) recently inspected several schools are applying for accreditation to teach the Philippine curriculum. There are currently 24 Philippine international schools in Saudi Arabia – 12 of which are in Riyadh and the Central Region, six in Jeddah, three in Alkhobar and Dammam, and one each in Taif, the Assir region and Jubail. However, many of these schools do not have DepEd accreditation, prompting Manila to send a team to conduct an ocular inspection. The team was composed of Dr. Yolanda S. Quijano, director IV (Bureau of Elementary Education), Dr. Estrella A. Babano (regional director, DepEd Region X), and Dr. Ma. Elsie C. Esmer (secondary education program specialist, Bureau of Secondary Education). Aside from checking school facilities, the officials also verified whether the teachers were qualified or not. Quijano said that of the six schools they inspected, three are in the running for a certificate of recognition. “The others already have the permit to operate but that is only the first level. The second level is the certificate of recognition and the last is the accreditation which can grant them independence as a school, allowing them to create courses without the interference of the DepEd," Quijano said in Filipino. After the inspection, DepEd officials conducted a seminar attended by 200 teachers from eight schools. They were taught modern teaching techniques, specifically the use of information and communication technology and the new standards for preschool education. In addition, the teachers were reminded during the seminar to instill in their students the importance of good manners. “The teachers were made aware that sometimes in wanting to make students learn, we focus too much on competencies that are objective and we forget that are objective is to also to develop the personalities of the children as people so we should also focus on values and the spiritual aspect which would both prove to be important to them," said Babano. “We need to give attention to the development of good manners because it is what shapes the students as persons. It is as important as education. Our image as Filipinos should be passed down especially to children overseas," she added. Even the Saudi owner of Al Hekma International School expressed her delight that the DepEd conducted such seminars wherein she learned a lot. “This is my first time for me to attend this seminar in Saudi Arabia and I am very happy and glad to have this seminar here. We learned a lot from this seminar. I am willing to learn a lot about the Philippine curriculum that will help me to manage the school with our Filipino principal and Filipino teacher," said Nada bin Yamin. Al Hekma, now the biggest Philippine school in Jeddah, was the first school outside the original International Philippines School in Jeddah (IPSJ) to be accredited by the DepEd. Belma Regis, Al Hekma principal, also said that they were very lucky to have taken part in the seminar because trainings held by the DepEd rarely happen. “They (teachers) learned how to use the computer, thereby enhancing their knowledge. Another good thing is that five-year old children in the kindergarten and preparatory level have been included in the formal education. Because of that, children will be required to pass through the kindergarten and preparatory level first before entering the first grade. - with Kimberly Jane T. Tan, GMANews.TV