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Sister Merceditas O. Ang: A Trailblazer Encouraging Innovative and Holistic Human Development

Sister Merceditas O Ang

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The St. Paul University Philippines (SPUP) was founded on May 10, 1907, in Tuguegarao City by the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres, as one of the 38 SPC schools in the Philippines. It became the first University in Cagayan Valley in 1982. SPUP is recognized as an autonomous university by the Commission on Higher Education in the Philippines and cited as the Center of Excellence in Nursing and Teacher Education, Center of Development in Information Technology, and Center of Teacher Training Institution. The University has been awarded for its Internationalization Program and deputized for Expanded Tertiary Education Equivalency Accreditation Program.

For more than a century of its existence, SPUP has proven its tradition of excellence and untarnished reputation of providing high-quality education. It exemplifies unity in diversity with more than eight thousand local and international student population.  The University offers basic education to graduate school programs and has continuously formed graduates in personifying Catholic and Paulinian values and virtues. SPUP is thereby making a difference in contributing to the social transformation in the service of the nation, the Church, and in turn humanity.

Devoted to “Love and Service”

The Catholic institution follows the guiding light of Sister Merceditas O. Ang, SPC, President of the prestigious university.  She serves a multi-dimensional role in propelling the university to greater heights. Sr. Merceditas is an advocate of quality education, breakthrough innovations, sustainable development, and strategic growth and networking. She is a lawyer and educator by profession and a religious sister by vocation.

As the incumbent president of SPUP, Sr. Merceditas has extensive professional experience and competence in the fields of education, law, research and innovation, internationalization, sustainable development, peace and social justice advocacy, environmental stewardship, and socio-civic organization. She is also affiliated with various national and international organizations and has dedicated her life to the mission of ‘love and service.’ She has trail-blazed innovative programs on holistic human development and published research on 21st-century learning and global education. Numerous national and international organizations have also awarded her for leadership and contribution to education.

“I believe that quality education is a potent factor for development,” said Sr. Merceditas.

Value Aided Education

SPUP has established niche academic programs in Nursing, Medicine, Medical Technology, Pharmacy, and allied health sciences. Alongside, it also offers leading degree programs on Teacher Education, Social Work, Business, Hospitality Management, Psychology, and Liberal Arts. The technology-enabled education system of the university is powered by innovative programs on Information Technology and Engineering.

The students at SPUP are also immersed in Science, Technology, and Languages. The competitive edge of the Paulinian education system is its holistic value-based teaching and learning practices, anchored on academic excellence, spirituality and Pauline ethics, social responsibility, and 21st-century transformative lifelong learning. “I leverage the integration of data science, artificial intelligence, and other 4IR technologies in SPUP’s digital transformation moving towards a smart university,” asserts Sr. Merceditas.

Internationalizing Paulinian Virtue

21st-century education is highly globalized, borderless, and technology-enabled. The labor workforce is becoming more diverse, international, intercultural, digital, and globally competitive. In 2015, SPUP launched its internationalization program with the tagline, ‘making a difference globally.’ It created a Paulinian international learning community composed of learners from the Asia-Pacific region. Accordingly, the university is focused on interculturality, peace education, global citizenship education, and training for the transnational workforce. It also encouraged partnerships and engagements with international partners in the academe and the industry. Besides, SPUP promoted the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and came up with a Primer on Engaging in the Sustainable Development Goals Through Laudato Si’.

Within a span of five years, SPUP has remarkably increased the number of its international students. The university has more than a thousand students and partners from 15 countries, even during the pandemic. Sr. Merceditas mentioned that impelled by the mission statement – “to effect social transformation through quality education by employing responsive and innovative management processes” – the university has fostered novel practices and strategies to inculcate 21st-century skills and competencies among the students. Thus, SPUP produces graduates who are job-ready and globally competitive, enriched with Paulinian values and spirituality, and with a good sense of internationality and global citizenship.

Adapting to the ‘New Normal’

During the initial period of the COVID-19 pandemic, education and work at SPUP had to be suspended. Sr. Merceditas took strategic and agile decisions and interventions to enable the university to survive and thrive during a difficult situation. The university immediately shifted to digital platforms. Due to the restrictions of face-to-face learning, SPUP adopted remote online learning and flexible learning. It used both synchronous-asynchronous and modular forms of learning to cater to those students with none or limited internet connectivity.

“We embarked on digital transformation anchored on quality online learning, accessible and innovative technology, people engagement, and cyber security,” said Sr. Merceditas. Additionally, the SPUP faculty and staff receive full salaries during the pandemic. In the face of a global crisis, Sr. Merceditas tried to translate the challenges into opportunities to nurture the health and well-being of the students and employees. She encouraged the exploration of technological innovations to enhance the virtual learning environment and boost online partnerships and networking for student engagement and community services.

Adhering to the Digital Shift

SPUP was one of the few universities in the region that had already invested in digital infrastructures before the pandemic. It used the technology to engage in e-Learning and automation of educational processes, services, and systems. As a result, SPUP adapted to the virtual learning environment faster. Under the leadership of Sr. Merceditas,  SPUP began a quality-based, technology-enabled, and sustainability-driven road map integrating key areas, including quality of teaching and learning, digital transformation, family-based evangelization, research and innovation, resource development, sustainability, internationalization, community services, and advocacies.

Presently, the quality of content, instructional delivery, and authentic assessment of learning outcomes are closely monitored through the university’s learning management system (LMS). SPUP has adopted learning modalities that are immersive, adaptive, and interactive. It uses 3-D simulations and virtual laboratories, engages students in real-life application-based tasks, and AI-related projects enhanced by audiovisual technologies. SPUP has also switched to tele-counseling of the students, in order to monitor their mental health and well-being.

The university also created digital platforms for interactive collaborative learning, team teaching, research collaboration, project-based learning, group dynamics, advocacies, and campus tour. Since the context of learning now is the home, SPUP engaged the students in online family-based evangelization. Moreover, the university strictly observes safety and health protocols on campus and uses QR codes, and a digital ID system for entry and exit. The library resources of various specializations are networked and accessible online. The SPUP Digital Transformation with Analytics System warrants the quality of teaching and learning, ensures the strategic mobilization and sustainability of human and material resources, and provides agile applications and solutions to various educational components.

“Words of Wisdom” “Yes! The educational ecosystem is transforming today, but at the core education still relies on the quality of the teaching and learning processthat holistically develop the full potentials, capabilities, values, and character of the learner to have a responsible, productive, and meaningful life and career.”

Sister Merceditas O Ang

Read Full Magazine: The 10 Most Agile Education Leaders in the APAC, 2021



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