Empowering Future Educators: Highlights from the Student Congress at Benguet State University

La Trinidad, Benguet- The Benguet State University Gymnasium buzzed with anticipation and enthusiasm as the Philippine Association for Teachers and Educators (PAFTE) – Cordillera Administrative Region Chapter hosted a Student Congress on the theme “Preparing Pre-Service Teachers for the Future Workforce.” From 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, educators, students, and stakeholders converged to discuss and strategize the future of teacher education.

Organized by PAFTE-CAR, the event drew participants from esteemed institutions including the University of Baguio, Saint Louis University, Kings College of the Philippines, Benguet State University, Baguio Central University, Easter College, Mountain Province State Polytechnic College, University of Abra, Divine Word College of Bangued, Keystone College Inc., and the Cordillera Career and Development College. Together, they formed a diverse and dynamic assembly committed to shaping the landscape of teacher preparation in the region.

University of Baguio students pose for a group picture during the Students’ Congress at the BSU Gym. Composed of eighty- eight delegates from Bachelor of Elementary Education, Bachelor of Physical Education, and Bachelor of Secondary Education programs.

The congress commenced with an inspiring opening ceremony, featuring addresses from distinguished guests and leaders in education. Dr. Samuel S. Poliden, the Vice President for Academic Affairs of Benguet State University, welcomed joyfully and with the utmost gratitude all of the attendees. Followed by the President of PAFTE-CAR, Dr. Eugenia C. Sumawang, the executive emphasized the significance of equipping future educators with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in the evolving educational landscape.

Throughout the day, a series of engaging plenary sessions, panel discussions, and workshops provided a platform for robust discourse and knowledge exchange. Renowned experts and practitioners shared their insights, sparking thought-provoking conversations and inspiring new perspectives. Topics ranged from the updates of the Commission on Higher Education or CHED-CAR regarding the changes in the collegiate curriculum and why it is needed to an engaging talk about how must a teacher prepare for the wellness of their body, mind and soul. Aside from this, the session also included talks about Personality Development and Professional Ethics, DepEd Guidelines in the Hiring of Teachers and lastly, the MATATAG Agenda. The session also highlighted the technology integration to inclusive education and cultural sensitivity.

One of the highlights of the congress was the interactive engagement of the students during the presentations in which, given the differences in uniforms, still cheered and holistically enjoyed the performances of each and everyone. According to Mary Bernadette Usman, “The event was more fun and enjoyable. The different ST’s of different schools supported each other”. Similarly, Monalisa Malamion, the event was even more

fun because of the performances, making the audience hyped and raising their energy. While for Julien Espada and Jeric Bandos said, it is enjoyable for it showcased their talents and it shows the diverse culture and talents here in Baguio.

Another pivotal session focused on the well-being of the mind, body, and soul, recognizing the importance of self-care and mental health support for educators. Dr. Sheila Marie Magat led a candid discussion on stress management, work-life balance, and building resilience in the face of challenges using basic exercises. Her insights resonated deeply with the audience, prompting reflection on the holistic development of teachers.

On the other hand, participants were challenged to explore critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication when the MATATAG Curriculum was discussed for this is now the future of education in which they will face once they pass the licensure examination. The speaker, Ms. Ria Francis Robles, emphasized that, as teachers of the 21st century, they must learn the essential competencies for educators in the digital age.

As the day drew to a close, participants emerged with a renewed sense of purpose and determination to champion excellence in teacher education. The closing message, delivered by Dr. Felipe S. Comila, President of Benguet State University, reinforced the commitment of the organization to continue advocating for the professional growth and empowerment of educators.

In conclusion, the Student Congress was a resounding success, uniting stakeholders in a shared vision of preparing pre-service teachers for the future workforce. Through collaboration, innovation, and collective action, the educators of tomorrow are poised to make a profound impact on the lives of learners and the trajectory of education in the Cordillera Region and beyond.

Written by Jan Rae M. Manuel

Photo courtesy of Jeric Bandos and Mary Bernadette Usman

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