MANILA — Three public schools in the Philippines have been shortlisted for a global education award for initiatives that have improved the health of their students and the development of their communities.
Bonuan Buquig National High School (Dagupan City, Pangasinan), GL David Memorial Integrated School (Balanga, Bataan) and Malitbog National High School (Calinog, Iloilo) were named finalists for the World’s Best School Prize in environmental action, community collaboration, and supporting healthy living categories, respectively.
The first prize for the best school in the world was organized by T4 Education, a digital media platform that allows educators to collaborate and share good practices.
The award has 5 categories, which also include the award for best school for innovation and ability to overcome adversity, although no Filipino schools are on the list for these 2 groups.
“By telling the stories of inspiring schools that are transforming the lives of their students and making a real difference in their communities, schools can share their best practices and help transform education,” said the Founder and CEO of T4 Education. , Vikas Pota, during the announcement of the shortlisted schools last Thursday.
According to T4, Bonuan Buquig National High School was selected in the environmental action category for its mangrove planting project.
After Typhoon Pepeng flooded Dagupan City in 2009, the local government dredged the rivers, which accidentally killed the mangroves and affected marine life.
The school has mobilized “more than a hundred volunteers” to plant thousands of mangrove propagules each year.
“As a result, the mangroves along the banks of the Longos River are almost rehabilitated and stabilized,” T4 said on its website.
The school also launched a coastal cleanup in 2014 to clear the shores of Bonuan Beach.
GL David Memorial Integrated School was chosen in the community collaboration category, primarily for its “Kain Pa” project which provided free daily meals to its students, many of whom were considered malnourished.
“The initiative buys vegetables, fruits and other products from government officials, NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and parents who buy ingredients at the market and sometimes help cook the meals themselves,” said T4.
The project saw malnutrition rates fall to 2.13% in 2020 from 12.11% the previous year.
Malitbog National Secondary School has been shortlisted in the Supporting Healthy Living category for the implementation of the Happy and Healthy School program during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program aimed to “promote the physical, mental and social health” of the students, most of whom are below the poverty line and suffered from malnutrition.
Projects and activities under the program include “home gardening, home wellness, promotion of healthy diets, clean water and sanitation, and promotion of mental health”.
The school also raised 2 million pesos to fund the purchase of sanitizers, printers and paper for remote learning, at a time when most parents were skeptical about sending their children to school as the government moved away from traditional in-person classes due to the pandemic.
Pota said the top 3 finalists in each category would be revealed in September and the winners would be named during Global Education Week in October.
“The winner of each award will be chosen based on rigorous criteria by an academy of judges that includes distinguished leaders from around the world, including academics, educators, NGO leaders, social entrepreneurs, government leaders, civil society and private sector activists as well,” Pota explained.
Each winning school will receive $50,000, he added.