The vibrant city of Bacolod played host to a momentous event as Project FORTH Erasmus+ concluded its transformative journey with a grand final dissemination at the University of Saint La Salle on March 24, 2023. This groundbreaking initiative, designed to prepare teachers to teach in the emerging challenged areas and to empower them, culminated in a jubilant celebration and gathering of partner universities in the Philippines and in Europe at the heart of the City of Smiles. Also in attendance were stakeholders from partner organizations, namely Education for an Interdependent World (EDIW) and Fundación Intered. Also gracing the occasion were Deputy Executive Director of the Commission on Higher Education International Affairs Atty. Lily Freida Milla, CESO IV, Commission on Higher Education Regional Office VI Director IV, Dr. Raul Alvarez, Jr., REE, CESO III, and Education Program Specialist of the Alternative Learning System of DepEd Negros Occidental, Ms.Yolly Salem
Honoring Collaborative Efforts
The final dissemination and closing ceremony in Bacolod was an occasion to honor the dedicated efforts of all stakeholders who made Project FORTH a resounding success. Representatives from partner European universities, Philippine universities, and other stakeholders commended the commitment and hard work put forth by the collaborating universities and DepEd partners, recognizing the project's immense contribution to promoting quality education in the challenged areas through teacher formation.
Highlights of the Closing Ceremony
Project FORTH Academic Coordinator, Dr. Emma Melgarejo, set the mind and the mood for the occasion by talking about “Spirit of Forth: The Journey,” in which she revisited the collaborative journey the FORTH Teams embarked on from the program’s inception until its completion. This was followed by a speech on the impact of Project FORTH on Philippine Higher Education delivered by the OIC of the Office of the Deputy Executive Director of the Commission on Higher Education International Affairs, Atty. Lily Freida Milla, CESO IV.
From the European partners’ perspective, the impact of Project FORTH was discussed by representatives from European partner universities: Dr. Elena Pacetti of the University of Bolognia, Dr. Edurne Bartolome of the University of Deusto, and Dr. Maria Yarosh of the University of Groningen.
Assistant Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Coordinator of the USLS Project FORTH Cluster, Dr. Ricver Ureta, talked about “Project FORTH: The USLS Journey,” focusing on the impact of the project on USLS FORTH Team and their DepEd partners.
Ms. Yolly Salem, Program Specialist of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) of DepEd Negros Occidental, talked about the project’s impact from the ALS perspective.
Project FORTH Designer and a key figure from Education for an Independent World, Dr. Julia Maria Gonzales, talked about “Ways Forward: Project Forth and Beyond,” which focused on answering questions like “What comes after the closing ceremony? Which way are we heading?”
Part of the closing program was a conversation and sharing of experiences from Dep Ed partners, as well as from Aitziber Barrueta Atxuegi of Fundacion Intered, who talked about her experiences from the perspective of an international non-government organization.
A sharing of findings from high-impact action research undertaken by DepEd partners were shared and disseminated during the closing program. Two DepEd partners of the USLS Project FORTH Cluster, namely Ms. Cristina Mayo and Mr. DG Mark Arrey, presented their action research findings.
Looking Ahead: The Legacy of Project FORTH
Project FORTH may have reached its official conclusion, but its impact will reverberate for years to come. The journey of teacher formation and educational collaboration has sowed the seeds for a more promising future for education in the challenged areas in the Philippines.
The participating universities, now armed with a global and local perspectives, are ready to take on the challenges of the future. Armed with compassion, competencies, and a commitment for transformative education, they will undoubtedly contribute positively to their communities and the world at large.
As the curtain falls on Project FORTH, its legacy remains alive in the hearts and minds of all those involved. The project has demonstrated the potential of education to transcend borders, promote quality education, and shape a brighter future for the emerging challenged areas for generations to come.