By Carol Corod
Over 800 Catholic educators gathered for the 11th CEACAL Catholic Educators’ Congress, addressing the challenges facing the country’s education system. CEACAL, or Catholic Educational Association of Caceres and Libmanan, hosted the event on January 29 at the Universidad de Sta. Isabel, Naga City.
The Congress, attended by Catholic schools in Caceres, Libmanan, Daet, Legazpi and Sorsogon, as well as some non-sectarian schools from Naga City and Guinobatan, Albay, served as a platform for collaboration, knowledge sharing, and the development of practical solutions to current issues that beset schools.
Rhodora Angela Ferrer, Executive Director of the Private Education Assistance Committe, discussed how to operationalize complementarity between public and private schools in the country. Jose Maria Policarpio, Executive Director of the Philippine Educational Publishers Association, presented strategies to advance schools using the power of marketing and branding. Simonet Barrosa, Regional Coordinator of the Philippine Catholic School Standards, guided the participants how they can leave imprints of Catholic identity as she talked on Committing to the Culture of Excellence in Education and Evangelization.
During the Mass, Caceres Archbishop Rolando J. Tria Tirona, O.C.D., D.D., urged the congregation to “turn to Mary, the teacher of faith and obedience.” He expounded on the role of education in evangelization. Before the final blessing, Fr. Albert N. Delvo, president of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, presented updates on Republic Act 8545 (Expanded Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education). He also discussed the ban on the No Permit, No Exam Policy.
According to CEACAL President Fr. Wilmer S. Tria, concurrently president of the Bikol Association of Catholic Schools, the Mass is one of the highlights of the Congress, as “it is the source of Catholicity of teachers.”
After all the talks, a listening session was held. Participants were asked to share their responses to three questions: What am I thankful for? What are my aspirations? What are my commitments?
The Congress concluded with concrete action plans and initiatives all aimed at responding to the call for synodality and quality Catholic education. Educators across Bikol are now tasked with implementing these plans within their own communities.