Remarks by Ambassador Liu Jianchao at the Awarding Ceremony of the 2009 Metrobank Foundation Search for Outstanding Teachers

4 September 2009

The Metrobank Plaza Auditorium





The Honorable Secretary Jessie Lapus,

The Honorable Secretary Peter Favila,

The Honorable Chairman Angeles,

Chairman Dr. George Ty,

President Sobrepena,

Outstanding Teachers and your families,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


Good afternoon!


Many years ago, I was a student in school. Today, I am looking back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who really touched my feelings. The school is the soil and the warmth from the teachers is the sunshine for the growing plant and enlightenment for the soul of a child. This is not just my personal experience but also the ones of many others. As former American CBS news anchor Dan Rather said, "The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth'." Henry Brooks Adams, an American historian, ever said, "A teacher affects eternity. He can never tell where his influence stops." 


A good teacher tells and explains, whereas an outstanding teacher demonstrates and inspires. That's why eeverybody remembers an inspirational teacher and there are many such teachers here with us today.


Ladies and Gentlemen,


It is a great honor to be with the 10 Outstanding Teachers for 2009, and to congratulate you on wonderful and miraculous achievments. It is also a great pleasure to be here to meet people from different sectors of education in the Philippines, the teachers, the administration, the students and the parents, who are so dedicated to the development of education, and so vital to a bright future for this great country.


My congratulations and appreciations also go to the Metrobank Foundation for your visionary enterprise and industrious efforts in putting in place the education programs, highlighting the values of engagement and empowerment that feature the Foundation as a pioneering institution. Furthermore, beyond giving awards, sponsoring contests or offering grants, the Foundation programs elevate the practice of corporate responsibility, promote a culture of excellence through endeavor, and inspire young Filipinos to compete and succeed. I believe there is nowhere more appropriate for me to share my views about what the Foundation has been trying and will continue trying to help every young person in this country make the most of their talents for the future.


At this defining moment when the financial crisis besets the developing economies, China and the Philippines included, many countries face few more urgent challenges than preparing their young to compete in a global economy. The decisions made about education in the years to come will virtually shape the future generations. They will help determine not only whether the children have the chance to fulfill their dreams or whether the workers have the chance to build a better life for their families, but whether a country will remain competitive in the 21st century.


The rising importance of education reflects the new demands of the new world. In recent decades, revolutions in communications and information technology have broken down barriers that once kept countries and markets apart, creating a global economy that's more integrated and interconnected than ever before. In this economy, companies can plant their jobs wherever there's Internet connection and someone willing to do the work, which means that the children to be growing up here in Manila will have to compete with graduates not only in Cebu or Davao, but also in Shanghai, New Delhi, London and New York.


What matters, then, isn't what you do or where you live, but what you know. When two-thirds of all new jobs requires a higher education or advanced training, knowledge is the most valuable skill you can sell. It's not only a pathway to opportunity, but it's a prerequisite for opportunity.



It's not just that a world-class education is essential for the graduates to compete and win, it's that an educated talent pool for a country to compete and win. In the past, those countries that had the natural resources, the coal or the oil or the basic commodities, or the infrastructure, the ports and the communications, were the ones that had probably the most competitive advantage. Today what matters is who has the skills, the ideas, the insights, the creativity. And the countries that I believe will succeed in the future are those that will do more than just unlock some of the talents of some of their young people. The countries that will succeed will be those that strive to unlock all the talents of all of their people. Without a sustainable human resource of proficiency and expertise, a company will innovate less, an economy will grow less and a country's competitiveness will be less. Therefore, if we want to out-compete the world tomorrow, we must out-educate the world today.


The world is moving at a restless pace to transform education. What appears to be world class now will soon of course appear to be second class in 10 or 20 years time. However, no matter how many choices the parents are given or how much technology is used in the schools or how well the curriculum is designed, none of it will make much difference if an education property does not include recruiting, preparing and retaining outstanding teachers as those who are present here today. From the moment a child enters a school, the most important factor in their success is the person standing at the front of the classroom. Research is absolutely conclusive about the importance of teaching. If you take a group of 50 teachers, a child taught by one of the best 10 will learn sometimes at twice the speed of a child taught by one of the worst 10. Teaching quality is so very, very important.


What I always believe in is that world-class performance comes from consistent brilliance from teachers in every classroom, professionals who always seek continuous improvement, and teach better lessons today and tomorrow than they did yesterday. The Philippine students are fortunate to have you as their teachers. You can always find the best in each and every of them. This is not just some shared beliefs across the teaching communities about the possibilities of progress, but an expression of faith in the students' future, making it possible for young people to bridge the gap between what they are and what they have it in themselves to become. You believe every child has a talent to learn and excel and so their potential must be nurtured and fulfilled.


The Philippines is full of talented people, aspiring and promising, and they get the gifts to develop and have something to give to the good of the community. The Philippines you proudly serve is a country with no cap on ambition, no ceiling on hope, no limit to where your students' potential will take them, and it is a country where individual talents can contribute to the well being and prosperity of all. This idea of excellence in education is not just a noble ideal, the search for knowledge, the pursuit of wisdom and the fulfillment of human potential, it is also, as everybody knows, an economic imperative too.


I make no exaggeration to say that education is the best economic policy for the developing countries such as China and the Philippines. As we all know, education has always been about more than exams and the basics, though vital as they are and will continue to be so. To educate, as we know, is to form character, to shape values, to liberate imagination and to pass human wisdom, knowledge and ingenuity from one generation to the next. Education is a duty and a calling.


As was said by one of the ancient philosophers, the mind is not a vessel to be filled, it is a fire to be kindled. That is why we have such high ambitions for education. Not just because education is a matter of national prosperity, it is certainly that, it is because education is the great liberator, the greatest liberator mankind has ever known and the greatest force for social progress.


That is why we, in the developing countries, want to see our children go to world-class schools that are supported by high aspirations and surrounded by excellent opportunities. That is why we want to see our families have the rights to participate in the education of their children and are encouraged with every chance to do so. And that is why we want our young people to see ahead of them a goal in life and have the support they need to get there. This is a cause every developing country has to enlist in.


And we, the developing countries can not do that on one's own. We the developing countries have been learning with great appreciations from the developed countries the knowledge and expertise of learning and teaching. The Chinese people look up to the Philippines for your high standard of education, and we are ready to strengthen our ties in teaching and learning. But I hope that when the story of our time is told in the future, it is not to be said that the developed economies seized the moment to reform its education system, but we, the developing ones, did not. We don't want it to be that the developed economies led the way of innovation, but we, the developing ones, did not. I want it to be that we, the developing economies, rose to meet challenges and educated our people to become the highly-skilled and best-qualified professionals in the world.


Dear teachers,


In the young's hands lies the tomorrow of a country and in your hands lies the guarantee for a better tomorrow. On behalf of those who were, are and will be sitting in classrooms, I, once again, would thank you, the Outstanding Teachers, from the bottom of my heart.


A diplomat is, for his life time, a student. To me I am in a classroom again, not necessarily in the UP, but the university of the Philippines. I am learning from the Philippine people. Here and now, just 5 days away from the Teacher's Day in China, please allow me to, in the Chinese way, bow to the teachers.


Thank you and mabuhay!

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