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The public school system: 17 regions; 186 DepEd Divisions; 5,000+ high schools and 38,000+ elementary schools nationwide.

The challenge: 1:70 teacher-to-student ratio; declining student performance; and, perennial shortage of resources.

"For almost 10 years, Microsoft Philippines has continuously invested in the public school system of the Philippines through programs like Partners in Learning (PiL)," said Sam Jacoba, Director for Academic Affairs, Microsoft Philippines. "We are proud that through PiL, we have been able to help the Department of Education in taking steps so that school leaders, teachers (a.k.a. TechMentors) and students get trained and developed to build an ICT-enabled "EduSystem" that is systemic, systematic and sustainable."

"The PiL community has close to 4,000 on-line community members and growing. PiL's battlecry - "No Teacher Left Behind" has never been more relevant and resounding in these challenging times - we know we can do more," enthused Jacoba.

Firm in its belief that Filipino public school leaders, teachers and students have what it takes to succeed in the knowledge-based Global Economy, Potensyal! will invest over P50 million in technology and training grants to build the country's 21st Century School System.

"We are excited at the prospect of a whole community of students, educators and lifelong learners realizing their full potential. We want to build the Philippines' 21st Century School System through Potensyal!. so no teacher, no school leader, and no student will be left behind," Jacoba continued.

The program is divided into two independent categories:

1. Potensyal: Building The 21st Century School System. In support of the Schools First initiative of the Department of Education, a nationwide, tri-level search for the most outstanding and innovative DepED Divisions, Schools and teachers is being initiated. The search will recognize divisions and high schools that have displayed a nurturing environmental system that improves the teaching and learning process.

The search has four (4) phases:
The first phase (Pre-Selection) sets the minimum requirements for building the 21st Century School system. It involves a quantitative measurement of the adoption and integration of the division and schools of specific PIL programs. Thirty (30) of these divisions will move on to the second and third phase as well as gain an initial technology and training grant worth approximately two million (P. 2,000,000.00). The Deadline of entries will be on July 30, 2006.

The second phase (Verification and Validation) involves the Potensyal team visiting probable winning division to discuss possible improvements of their entries prior to Phase 3, establish working relationships, as well as to verify and validate submitted entries. During this phase, improvements and modifications on the existing submitted documentation will be encouraged.

The third phase (21st Century School System Finals) allows the thirty (30) divisions to showcase their respective plans and assess their capability to proceed with the next phase. The representatives of the division will convene in a week long, exclusive gathering to determine which divisions will move on to the next phase. Three (3) of these divisions will move on to the Fourth phase.

The fourth phase (Realizing Potensyal) involves the roll-out of the technology and training grants to the top three (3) winners totaling approximately 10 million (P. 10,000,000.00) in two or three year engagements in cooperation with the Partners In Learning (PIL) Team.

2. The Innovative Teacher's Leadership Awards. Already in its third year, the search recognizes public school teachers who have successfully integrated Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in teaching and learning that effectively impacts on developing knowledge workers and life-long learner.

"Potensyal is a comprehensive approach that will directly address student teaching and learning and the institutions behind the educational system. It begins with a search for divisions, schools, and teachers who have displayed leadership, innovation, openness to technology, and people empowerment. We then continue by building strong partnerships with the goal of transforming the education system through the realization of potential," stated Jacoba.
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