Conducting research is one of the functions of an institution of higher learning. It is a very important activity that it should not be taken simply as a requirement particularly in the tertiary level or of any accrediting agency for the basic education level. Rather, it is an opportunity to learn, improve practices and even policies when necessary. It is an opportunity to grow, to learn from each other, and to keep ourselves updated. It is in learning unceasingly that we can impart knowledge and hone the skills of the students more effectively. It is in the implementation of educational researches that improvement both of pedagogical practices and student learning is achieved (Stafford, 2006).
As we continuously build the culture of research in St. Scholastica’s College, Manila across all units, we aim to have more researches in the areas of transformative leadership, peace education, curricular improvement and/or development, women and children advocacies, as well as environmental protection and preservation or ecological activism.
The job of a leader today is not to create followers but to create leaders (Ralph Nader).
This kind of leadership is what we want all our leaders to imbibe. Transformative leadership (also known as transformational leadership) refers to the process whereby an individual engages with others and creates a connection that raises the level of motivation and morality in both the leader and the followers. It is about providing supportive climate, communicating high expectations, inspiring others that they may become committed to the realization of goals of the organization; it is about stimulating others to be more creative and innovative. It values both people and results, commitment, service, dedication, perseverance, giving of oneself, collaboration and empowerment; it is about walking with the people being led towards one direction and arriving at the same desired results. It is a kind of leadership that brings about change not only for the organization but for the larger community and the society as a whole.
With all these considered, transformative leaders then, see the need for a change and makes sure that such change will happen. They do not settle for mediocrity but excellence; for what has been in place for a long time but innovativeness and creativity.
If we are to identify what has not been achieved yet by our country and the world it would be peace. Conflicts, disagreements, division and the like have never been resolved. There is war over a piece of land, power and beliefs; injustices and violence seem to prevail. All these can never be addressed at an instance. Peace talks, winning over wars, and other peace initiatives and processes may just be addressing the issues of peace on a surface level. Peace and peace building has to start from within; it has to be imbibed and lived by every individual; and as Benedictine educators we continue to seek peace and pursue peace.
In the academe where we belong we can help create a culture of peace through peace education initiatives and programs. We can make curricular reforms where peace education is made part of lessons, discussions, and activities, which involve the process of acquiring the values, the knowledge and developing the attitudes, skills, and behaviors to live in harmony with oneself, with others, and with the natural environment. It is about “teaching encounters” that would enhance students’ desire for peace, of loving non-violent acts and deeds, of learning how to manage conflicts and most especially putting premium to justice and equality. (Harris and Synott, 2012), it is a kind of education that provides opportunity in learning to know about the real meaning of peace, learning to do and work for peace, learning to be a person for peace, and learning the tools to transform society (UNESCO Report in Promoting Quality Education, 2003).
Peace education is not limited to anti-nuclear activities or projects, it likewise addresses gender equality, environmental responsibility and stewardship, efforts to address communication gap, conflict management, establishing good relationships, understanding and respecting the integrity of God’s creation.
We are a dynamic and a progressive teaching school. We offer what is relevant and what would make our students equipped, competent and ready to face the challenges ahead; not so much in content but more so in values and character formation. We can only realize this by having a very good curriculum implemented by competent faculty and administrators. Curriculum does not only speak of the subject areas or content to be covered, not only those that are written but the hidden curriculum as well. It would also include improvement and evaluation of existing practices especially in as far as instructional delivery and quality of learning outcomes are concerned across educational levels (primary, secondary, and tertiary). Curricular improvement encompasses as well various involvement of students in activities that provide significant learning experiences in school like co-curricular activities and extra-curricular activities.
Women and Children Advocacies
The emergence of globalization as believed to have been the answer to national development, even worsen the state of women in the country – peasant women were displaced, a significant percentage of women in the workforce remained unemployed or underemployed, privatization of maternal clinic that service marginalized women would no longer be affordable for a lot of them, women trafficking, sexual exploitation and abuse. These are but a few and the latter are even true for children.
A women college as we are and at the same time an institution that has been proactive in helping the poor and the marginalized sectors of society, would like to continue with its mission of evangelization – of bringing Christ to everyone especially the less fortunate. With the various programs that we have and those that are yet to be in place or conceptualized, there can still be areas to be explored or to look into.
With the given situation, it is likewise and therefore on the helm of St. Scholastica’s College, Manila to produce responsive women leaders of the country. Women leaders, who understand the plight of the poor and the marginalized and therefore have the courage to take action. Women, who would continue taking the lead on pursuing peace, and making a difference in this world.
We are all aware of the degrading condition of our environment. The worsening state of our environment continuously creates an ecological imbalance. We have been experiencing the effects of global warming, resulting to the so-called “natural catastrophe” but is actually man-made if we are going to trace the real cause.
St. Scholastica’s College, Manila has been unceasingly trying to respond to the call of saving mother earth. Various programs and projects have been in place; some were realized, some were not. Environmental awareness has been made part of the curriculum particularly in the fields of science and technology subjects. Co-curricular and extra-curricular organizations and activities likewise include projects and programs related to environmental protection.
However, there is still much to be desired and since stewardship is one Benedictine value that we want each and every member of the community to imbibe, we will continuously respond to protecting and preserving mother earth… we will untiringly value the integrity of God’s creation . . . for it is one of the so many ways to be true co-creator of God.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP, 2007) defines poverty as the inability to afford basic food and non-food items as what was seen in the four countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Swaziland and South Africa (UNEP, 2007). Poverty is also a major concern in other areas of the world including the Philippines. It is actually a global concern. In the Philippines for example, data released by the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) in February 2011 showed that poverty level in the country has improved from 2006-2009 in terms of subsistence incidence or proportion of food but one may have doubts about the credibility (NCSB, 2011)
John Daniel said that the road to poverty alleviation is through quality education. This is anchored and responsive to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), whose first target is a call to reduce the proportion of people living on less than $1 a day to half the 1990 level by 2015, this is to say from 28.3% of all people in low and middle-income economies to 14.2% (UNESCO, 2006). If poverty will not be arrested the poor will become even poorer. They would remain inferior, low, powerless and hopeless, jobless, and will continue to experience unfair labor practices. All these would lead to the birth of malnourish and undernourished children, homelessness, criminal victimization, depression, parents that are punitive and at times family death.
There is also the so-called feminist perspective on poverty or “feminization of poverty”. This is brought about by the increasing number of single women, particularly single mothers and elderly women who experience or live in poverty (Cliffs Notes, 2012).
Benedictine education is value-laden and responsive to the call of the times. It is Christ-centered and values community, stewardship, a balance between prayer and work, service, and discipline to name a few. It is transformative and is anchored on its social orientation thrust. It believes in justice and advocates peace. Benedictine education creates leaders who can be God’s instruments in bringing about change in the society. It is through this kind of education that we become educational leaders who are sent for a mission; who never get tired of learning, so that in all things God may be glorified.