Knowledge Channel stays true to the belief that education should be accessible to all irrespective of genderEvery child has a right to learn and have access to quality education, regardless of his/her/ their gender, where they live or the circumstance they are in.
This was the premise and guiding principle when I started the Knowledge Channel Foundation in 1999, 23 years ago. It was a response to the increasingly dismal situation of education in the Philippines. Once known for its effective educational system in Asia, the country had dropped to the bottom 10% worldwide in terms of academic achievement.
When I started Knowledge Channel and many years after, I wasn’t so sure I could do it. I had a lot of self-doubt, insecurity and anxiety over my lack of knowledge and skills to lead this advocacy. But I forged ahead and, I must say, relentlessly.
Throughout the years, we remained true to our commitment, evolving into a teaching-learning ecosystem with platforms, content, training and special projects that would boost the learning performance of Filipino learners—boys and girls—in school. We collaborated with public and private schools, national agencies and institutions, and private companies to reach more children and teachers.
As the years passed by, gender disparities in education still persisted. We stayed true to our belief that education should be accessible to all irrespective of gender. And as we continued to address gender inequalities in education, we also taught young children concepts of gender equality.
We had the educational talk show “Gab to Go,” which helped parents with their teenagers’ concerns. We produced “Kwentong Kartero,” a multimedia learning series that discussed the concepts of population and development, responsible parenthood and human sexuality. We also produced “Salam,” an education series that incorporated essential peace concepts and pertinent social issues with lessons from world history.
And our livelihood series, “Negosyo Ko, Asenso Ko,” taught learners business skills that could empower girls and women to get into business. These shows had a common lesson: that people have the right to live a happier and better life regardless of his/her/their gender.
Knowing that teachers are the most important element in the learning of children in school, we worked to help build their capacities and have trained thousands of teachers on 21st century skills; on the use of technology, specifically Knowledge Channel technology; on teaching in the new normal; and even on specific subjects like reading and math.
As you could see, this had been quite a journey for me. Reading, learning, talking, creating, building, forging ahead, learning, stepping back, talking, listening, crying, reflecting, iterating, building, laughing, forging ahead, stepping back, being angry, reflecting, listening, iterating, rebuilding, forging ahead—and the journey continues.
I sometimes think: was this worth the physical, mental and emotional rollercoaster?
My answer invariably was, yes! We must continue to be responsible stewards and cocreators of transformative learning experiences, especially for the millions of poor and marginalized Filipino children and communities that want to learn and teach with fun and engaging learning materials, that they be happier and holistically developed Filipinos proactively making the world a better place.
I am the third in my family, in between Cary and Piki. I grew up as one of the boys. I even played varsity basketball for the champion teams of Assumption and De La Salle University. And so you could say that early in my life, I broke the bias. I played and loved a sport that was stereotypically played by males and was advantageous for taller people. But I had a gift which I maximized. I was fast, I did a lot of fast breaks.
If you would ask me today, as a female CEO, have I broken the bias? Again, I did. I broke the bias I had within myself. The self-doubt and insecurity. I built the courage and tenacity or relentlessness to continue the mission all these 23 years despite the challenges, understanding the saying, “If not me, who?” I now understand that I am unique in the world. Uniquely situated in this world to fulfill my mission. All of us are uniquely situated in this world to fulfill our mission in life.
In the Philippines, we were blessed to be in a women-friendly society. In education, there were more female students than males and they excelled. More companies were hiring and promoting females. More family businesses, big and small, were being run by women. More women were joining the old boys’ club of politics in congress, the senate, local governments and even the two highest positions of the land.
In spite of these, I know biases and glass ceilings still exist. But as a woman who’s on the other side of the biases and glass ceilings, I encourage you to take courage and be relentless at chipping away at it. While we cannot control those who create glass ceilings and have biases, gender or otherwise, we can control ourselves, how we see these and how we respond to them. So keep chipping.
I believe that we should break the bias starting when children are young. Those who care for young children, parents, caregivers, teachers— they need to have broken the bias in themselves and teach and model their behavior and words for the young children to emulate and learn, especially as 65.73% of Filipino teachers are female. Young girls and boys should see gender equality in their homes, their schools and in the media they consume. So make them watch the Knowledge Channel.
By promoting and instilling gender equality in young people’s minds, we can empower more women to lead, achieve great things and inspire the community.
Only through working together can we ensure a bright future where women and all genders can live their lives in peace, justice and dignity.
, call or text 0915-980- 3474 or visit www.knowledgechannel.org (Story/Photos by: Rina Lopez)