COCOPEA holds formal leadership turnover ceremony

The Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations of the Philippines (COCOPEA) held its Formal Leadership Turnover Ceremony on August 17, 2023, at the Marriott Hotel Grand Ballroom in Pasay City. The ceremony marked the leadership transition from the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities (PACU) to the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP). CEAP will lead the council for the next two years. 

The ceremony was attended by all five-member associations of COCOPEA: CEAP, PACU, Association of Christian Schools, Colleges and Universities (ACSCU), Philippine Association of Private Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAPSCU), and UniTVET, represented by their Presidents, Board of Trustees and members. Furthermore, the ceremony includes Hon. J. Prospero E. De Vera III, Chairman Commission on Higher Education (CHED). Hon. Sherwin T. Gatchalian, Chairman, Senate Committee on Basic Education, Hon. Mark O. Go, Chairman, House Committee on Higher and Technical Education, Dir. Jocelyn D.R. Andaya, Director IV of DepEd Bureau of Curriculum and Development, Dir. Rhodora Angela F. Ferrer, Executive Director, Private Education Assistance Committee (PEAC), Dr. Karol Mark R. Yee, Executive Director, Second Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM II), and other stakeholders of the private education sector. 

The attendees were welcomed by Dr. Betty Cernol-McCann, Vice President, ACSCU and President, Silliman University, with her opening remarks that allowed everyone to reflect on the rich legacy of excellence that the previous leadership has built and to look forward to the promising future that lies ahead with the current leadership of Sr. Viri. Dr. Cernol-McCann proudly announced that the turnover ceremony serves as an act that ensures the sustainability of Private Education. She reminded us to keep the desire to stay relevant and grounded as the private sector chart and explore new educational paths in service to the country and the rest of the world. 

A Keynote Address by Hon. Gatchalian followed the inspiring, welcoming message of Dr. Cernol-McCan. In his message, he expressed much gratitude for COCOPEA’s consistent response to the invitations and active participation of the council in various engagements of the Committee on Basic Education. Hon. Gatchalian also commended COCOPEA’s tenure for being the resounding voice of the Private Education sector for over six decades, allowing the council to become a beacon of collaboration and shared purpose, channeling its collective strength to champion the advancement of education. These positive attributes contributed to the private school emerging as the top nurturing ground for innovation and excellence in the holistic growth of Filipino learners, validated by the private education sector’s remarkable international assessments scores both in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Southeast Asia – Primary Learning Matrix (SEA- PLM).

Hon. Gatchalian also tackled the complementarity of the Private and Public Education sector. He shared that one of the pivotal initiatives the government continues to support is the implementation of Republic Act 8545 or the Expanded Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (E-GASTPE). This initiative is a way for the government to recognize the private education sector’s role in shaping the Philippine educational landscape. Additionally, Hon. Gatchalian mentioned other initiatives that the government laid out in support of private education and the education sector as a whole; these are but not limited to the Inclusive Education Act, which, as mandated by the law, the Department of Education shall collaborate with relevant partners to train all in-service teachers, including those from private schools. The Alternate Learning System Act aims to provide out-of-school children, youth, and adults with basic education. Senate Bill No. 1604, or the Academic Recovery and Accessible Learning or ARAL Program Act, aims to give learners access to well-systematized tutorial sessions and well-designed intervention plans. Another initiative was the passing of the Second Congressional Commission on Education Act (EDCOM II) which undertook a comprehensive national assessment and evaluation of the performance of the Philippine education sector.

Through these initiatives and more proposed measures, Hon. Gatchalian assured his unwavering commitment to stand as a steadfast ally of COCOPEA, championing programs that will uplift and empower education institutions nationwide. To conclude, he reiterates that the presence of COCOPEA represents more than a mere confluence of associations. It embodies a celebration of unity, a manifestation of unwavering dedication, and a testament to the enduring power of education. 

Engr. Bernard Nicolas E. Villamor, Chairman of COCOPEA 2022-2023, President, PACU, President, Cebu Institute of Technology- University, gave his message as the outgoing COCOPEA Chairperson and presented the COCOPEA Biennial Report. Through a video presentation, Engr. Villamor showed the challenges, battles, and accomplishments done by COCOPEA under the leadership of PACU. He also used the opportunity to thank the COCOPEA Board of Trustees members and members and partners of PACU that helped immensely in forwarding various agendas of the Private Education sector. He also showed confidence that the new leadership of COCOPEA will reach greater heights as they assume a critical role and continue to build upon the strong foundation they have laid together.

Right after the message of the outgoing COCOPEA Chairman, Engr Villamor completed the ceremonial passing of the COCOPEA Mace to Sr. Viri, followed by the Inaugural Address of the new COCOPEA Chairperson.

Sr. Viri started her inaugural address by acknowledging the efforts of her immediate predecessors from PACU, Engr Villamor and Dr. Anthony Jose Tamayo, whose footsteps she will humbly follow and build upon the remarkable achievements under their leadership. She also expressed gratitude to the COCOPEA Board of Trustees as she is honored to work alongside such a passionate and committed group of educators. 

As the new COCOPEA Chair, Sr. Viri stated that her utmost priority would be to advocate for the interest and needs of Private Education schools across the country, ensuring that the sector has a voice in the Philippine society to engage with the policymakers in the legislative chambers and education agencies. Finally, she invited everyone to work collaboratively to elevate private education, nurture the next generation of leaders and create a brighter future for our beloved nation. As a direct quote from Sr. Viri’s address: “Together, with passion, dedication, and unwavering commitment, we will shape the future of the Philippine private education.”

Hon. Mark O. Go, Chairman House Committee on Higher and Technical Education, administered the Oath of Office of the New COCOPEA Chairperson as the inducting officer; this was followed by his message to the new leadership of COCOPEA. Hon. Go expressed his gratitude to the Council for being an instrumental ally in forwarding the cost of the 21st century ready, accessible, and quality education for all. He stated that he is a first-hand witness of COCOPEA’s dedication as the Committee on Higher and Technical Education has created an invaluable partnership with COCOPEA in advocating for legislative works that would uplift the state of Philippine education. He also thanked the previous leadership that through their actions, COCOPEA had contributed immensely to the strides that they made towards achieving the goal of strengthening the education system to become globally competitive and competent. Lastly, he wished the new leadership to have a continued partnership with the most credible representative of Private tertiary education in the country and to have open and continuous communication, which will lead to up-to-date curricula, development of industry standards and practices, mentoring programs, and other initiatives that benefit both industry and academe.

Hon. J. Prospero E. De Vera III, Chairman, Commission on Higher Education (CHED), proceeded to deliver his congratulatory message by expressing gratitude to COCOPEA for being an indispensable ally of the Commission at all times and for ensuring constant constructive dialogues on the various issues concerning Private Higher Education. 

Dir. Jocelyn, D.R. Andaya, Director IV of DepEd Bureau of Curriculum and Development, also delivered her congratulatory message. She lauds the Council and its member associations for ensuring private schools remain at the forefront of education reforms and innovation. Dir Andaya then expressed her gratitude to COCOPEA for their steadfast contribution to Basic Education, as shown in the crafting of the “MATATAG Curriculum,” from which changes and revisions came from feedback and insights of private schools, teachers, and coordinators. She then showed confidence in the new leadership, headed by Sr. Viri, as she was exposed to the values of CEAP, much of what she brings to DepEd regarding values, leadership, and knowledge of children’s learning comes from her experience in a private catholic school. She is certain that CEAP, in its two-year leadership of COCOPEA, will bring more cutting-edge ideas that can only be borne by its storied reputation. She ended her message by quoting Vice-President, DepEd Secretary, Sara Z. Duterte “Para ito sa bansang makabata at batang makabansa”.

Dir Rhodora Angela F. Ferrer, Executive Director, PEAC, delivered her congratulatory message. Dir Ferrer mentioned that PEAC and COCOPEA are so intertwined because PEAC’s founders were all former Presidents of the biggest associations of COCOPEA. Nearly sixty years later, PEAC and COCOPEA continue to fight together through many issues involving the private education sector. The battle may be tiring, but she assured that PEAC will continue advancing its advocacies with competence, courage, and constancy and will continue to support COCOPEA because the two associations share the same bloodline.

The Ceremonial Toast is headed by Dr. Antonio M. del Carmen, President, PAPSCU, President & CEO of STI College- Sta Rosa, Laguna. He called on the members of COCOPEA and its new leadership to take on more concrete, innovative, and transformative action to enable the privation education to continue providing quality and relevant education to the students who need and deserve a high-quality education.

To cap off the evening, Fr. Onofre G. Inocencio, Jr., SBD, Ed.D. led the closing prayer, where he asked guidance to our Lord to bring to completion the little contributions that the Private Education sector done in building His Kingdom.

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