Fr. Johnny Go, SJ Appointed as the First GBSEALD
28 Jul 2021
Fr. Johnny C. Go SJ has been appointed as the founding dean of the newly-established Gokongwei Brothers School of Education and Learning Design (GBSEALD) as the Ateneo de Manila University continues its 156-year-old tradition of excellence in teacher education.
“I initially wanted to concentrate on my teaching and training,” said Fr. Go about his new leadership role. “But because I very much believe in the mission of the school, upon the request of the Provincial and Fr. Bobby, I decided to be open to the position. I am expected to do no less as a Jesuit,” he added.
Prior to his appointment, Fr. Go taught as an Associate Professor at the Department of Education and acted as the Director of the Ateneo de Manila Institute for the Science and Art of Learning and Teaching (SALT), which he established in 2017. Since 2016, he has also served as the Education Secretary for the Asia Pacific of the Jesuit Conference of Asia-Pacific.
After finishing his basic education at Xavier School, he went to the Ateneo de Manila University for his undergraduate degree in Psychology (1983). Fresh from college, he worked as a Guidance Counselor and English Teacher at Xavier School. He then transitioned to a career in Marketing and Advertising as a Product Manager of ready-to-drink tetra, bottled juice drinks, and concentrate at Magnolia San Miguel.
After two years in his marketing career, Fr. Go decided to join the Jesuits by entering the seminary. He recalled, “Although I enjoyed my marketing job back then, there was the proverbial sense of emptiness that made me feel that it just was not for me. After exploring different options, I ended up responding to the call to become a Jesuit.”
With demonstrated experience in educational leadership and teacher education, Fr. Johnny Go SJ leads the newly-established GBSEALD as Ateneo continues its 156-year-old tradition of excellence in teacher education.
Fr. Go returned to Ateneo de Manila for his MA in Philosophy (1992) and Theology (1998). As part of his Jesuit formation, he went to Taipei to study media production as his apostolate and served as the Executive Director of the Jesuit Communications Foundation from 1997 to 2002. He was all set to take further Media studies in 2001, but upon the request of his Provincial then, he agreed to serve as president of Xavier School in San Juan for one year, only for the term to be extended to twelve years, from 2001 to 2013.
Fr. Go is known for the innovative programs that he launched in Xavier School: the Xavier China Experience, where students spend six weeks in China to learn the language and the culture; the One2One Learning Program, where every high school student uses an iPad for learning in class; and the IB Diploma Programme.
When he was president of Xavier School, he also served as a board member of the Ateneo de Manila Board of Trustees from 2006 to 2013.
After his stint in Xavier School, Fr. Go obtained his Doctorates in Education from the UCL Institute of Education, University College London in the UK and the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore (2016). He was then assigned to the Ateneo de Manila, where he established the Ateneo SALT Institute and initiated the Gokongwei Brothers School of Education and Learning Design.
“I am very grateful to the LS community for supporting this effort because I think it is an important mission.” expressed Fr. Go. “Obviously, there is a learning crisis in the country; the Philippines consistently placed last in every single international assessment. We also face a teaching crisis - only about a third of education students pass the licensure exam for teachers,” he said.
GBSEALD, the fifth Loyola School, constitutes Ateneo's strategic response to the challenges of Philippine education and signals the university’s recommitment to its important mission in the national educational landscape.
The leadership of GBSEALD consists of several administrators for its departments and centers that respond to Ateneo’s commitment to its important mission in the national educational landscape.
The school will initially consist of three departments: Department of Curriculum, Pedagogy, and Assessment, Department of Educational Management and Leadership, and Department of Catholic Education Philosophy and Practice. In addition, it will also house the Ateneo Teacher Center (ATC) for teacher training, Ateneo SALT for educational technology and innovation, the Ignatian Initiative for Teacher Excellence (IGNITE) for Jesuit education, the Pathways to Higher Education for outreach, and the newly established Lily Gokongwei Ngochua Leadership Academy.
Set to formally open its doors in August 2021, GBSEALD is envisioned to be more than just a “traditional” teacher school by promoting the science and art of designing learning; by generating research-based contributions in teacher education, curriculum reform, and educational policy and practice; and, by building the capacity of academic leaders, policymakers, and teachers, especially those serving in the public education system.
Through educational technology and innovation, GBSEALD is envisioned to be more than a ‘traditional’ teacher school.
“Through our effective use of educational technology and 21st-century principles, we hope we won’t just be teaching old school. We will train our faculty and students to be ‘techie,’” Fr. Go explained. ”For instance, with our partnership with Apple Education, we will build a Learning Design Cafe on the fourth floor of the Learning Innovation Wing at Areté. It’s really going to be exciting,” he said.
Aside from its current array of master’s degree programs in education, the school plans to offer distinctive and cutting-edge undergraduate and doctoral programs. Fr. Go said, “Another way that GBSEALD is not going to be a ‘traditional’ school of education is that we will also prepare students who want to become learning professionals in fields other than formal education, such as online learning designers, HR trainers, and education data analysts.”
To establish GBSEALD’s relevance amongst other prominent educational institutions in the Philippines, the school will utilize a three-fold strategy consisting of capacity-building, knowledge-building, and network-building.
“For capacity-building, we want to produce high-quality graduates for the learning profession, especially for the public school system. Through the Rosario Bustos Atencio Scholarship Fund, we hope to train public school teachers who will serve and make a difference in public learning institutions,” he said.
“With the help of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), we will also identify and partner up with select education institutes in the country to help upgrade the quality of teacher education.”
“For knowledge-building, we hope to contribute new knowledge to the field of education through high-impact research that can aid in the formulation of educational policies and help the government create programs and projects for the Filipino learners.”
“We can’t solve this problem alone, so we need to build networks and work with others. We have many who have joined us in our mission, such as the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation, and our benefactors for our Rosario Bustos Atencio Scholarship Fund, VTL Teacher Education Endowment Fund, and many others. Through their support, we hope to offer scholarships, invite high-quality faculty from overseas, fund educational innovation projects, and train public school teachers,” he said.
The establishment of GBSEALD will also enable Ateneo to synergize its efforts in teacher education and training. He explained, “For many years, Ateneo de Manila has championed several teacher training initiatives through its different units and schools. Now, with the new school of education, we can help coordinate and synergize these efforts to create greater impact as a university.”
As the GBSEALD founding dean, Fr. Go hopes for the LS community's continued openness and involvement in the development of the school. He concluded, “The school remains a work-in-progress, so I hope that the Ateneo de Manila community will continue to support us and remain involved in shaping the future of GBSEALD.”
The official memorandum of Fr. Go’s deanship appointment can be accessed hehttps://ateneo.edu/office-president/memos/u2021-040-dean-school-education-learning-designre.
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