Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Iloilo City Employees to Receive Study Grants

Last Saturday, I got a call from Dennis Gonzalez saying that he was in Iloilo to interview several prospective candidates for their masteral program at the Ateneo School of Government. Dennis, by the way, is the younger brother of Iloilo City Congressman Raul Gonzalez, Jr. and is the current Academic Program Manager of the Ateneo School of Government in Rockwell, Makati. He said that he will be interviewing a group of City Hall officials who have signified interest in taking the masteral course, which included Councilors Parcon and Drilon-Garcia. He added that his brother and Mayor Treñas promised to pool their resources to fund the studies of 25 scholars.

The 25 lucky individuals to be chosen will be taking up the tricky “Masters in Public Management” program of the Ateneo School of Government. According to Gonzalez, the said two-year course is specially designed for people occupying management positions in government. And the best part is, the Iloilo students will not have to go to Ateneo-Rockwell because Ateneo-Rockwell will go to them. Gonzalez said that professors from the Ateneo will be flying in from Manila every Saturday to conduct whole-day lectures in Iloilo City. According to Dennis, this unique distance education curriculum is part of the Ateneo School of Government’s outreach program to improve the people’s access to high-quality education especially of those in the provinces.

This coming Saturday (August 12), a Memorandum of Agreement will be signed by the Iloilo City government and the Ateneo School of Government to conduct this distance learning program. Expected to lead the MOA-signing rites are Dr. Antonio Laviña, the new Dean of the Ateneo School of Government, Congressman Gonzalez, Mayor Treñas and other city officials.

By equipping our city managers with advanced education and the right leadership skills training, it is hoped that the quality of public service in Iloilo will improve. In the end, it is the general public who will benefit.

In the past, Iloilo City officials relied mainly on their homespun wisdom and innate talents to solve our city’s problems. But the rapid urbanization of Iloilo City has brought about problems never before encountered by previous administrations like flooding, traffic, urban blight and overpopulation. While common sense and native intelligence may have worked in solving simple problems in the past, the complex problems Iloilo City is currently encountering require complex solutions. There is, therefore, a need to equip our leaders with the right knowledge and advanced management skills if they are to solve our city’s problems. We also have to professionalize our people in City Hall if we want to see competent governance and improved public service for our people.

We must bear in mind that other Philippine cities are also upgrading their peoples’ skills and professionalizing their organizations. Presently, all cities in the country are in fierce competition for visitors and investors to their respective areas. Our City Hall officials must therefore also have to upgrade their skills and professionalize their organization in order to be competitive with other Philippine urban centers if we want to attract tourists and investors. In order to maintain Iloilo City’s preeminent position as one of the best places in the country to live in, we have to invest our financial resources in the people running our city. As the foremost city in Western Visayas, it would be a huge waste if we are going to let things slide and allow other Philippine cities overtake us in terms of growth and development.

In a sense, the people of Iloilo City are lucky because they have leaders who believe in education. Education is a most potent tool in realizing growth and improving people’s lives. We should thank Mayor Treñas and Congressman Gonzalez for believing in the project and allowing our city employees the opportunity to earn a masteral degree. Without their support, many of those who are planning to take up graduate studies would not be able to do so due to financial constraints. For their part, the beneficiaries of these study grants should realize that it is the taxpayers who will be paying for their tuition. They should therefore pay back the people thru their honest and efficient public service. The people of Iloilo City deserve no less.

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