First female Education secretary Lourdes Quisumbing dies at 96

/ 06:40 PM October 15, 2017
Lourdes Quisumbing

Dr. Lourdes Reynes Quisumbing (Photo courtesy of Miriam College)

Dr. Lourdes Reynes Quisumbing, former education secretary under the administration of President Corazon Aquino, died on Saturday at the age of 96, according to statement issued on Sunday by Dahl D. Bennett, communication and media coordinator of Miriam College.

For eight years, Dr. Q, as her colleagues called her, was president of the school when it was still known as Maryknoll College before Aquino appointed her in 1986 as secretary of the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS), a post she held until her resignation in 1990.


Her appointment made her the first woman to head DECS.

“Her tenure [as DECS secretary] marked the expansion of free public education to the secondary level, an increase in the share of education in the national budget, rationalization of higher education, and an emphasis on values education,” the statement said.


Then in January 1990, she was appointed as secretary-general of the Unesco National Commission of the Philippines, with the rank of ambassador in the Department of Foreign Affairs. She held that post until she retired from public service in February 1998.

The Cebu-born Quisumbing was the widow of Carlos C. Quisumbing Sr., an engineer. She is survived by 10 children, 27 grandchildren, 22 great grandchildren, and three great-great grand children.

“She was the matriarch of a family whose number almost matched her age,” the Miriam College statement said.

Before getting into government service, Quisumbing dedicated her life to education.

“Dr. Quisumbing’s lustrous career is steeped in the field of education, beginning with her teaching stint in the 40s at St. Theresa’s College (STC) in Cebu, where she had to balance her profession with parenting nine children,” the statement said.

She got her bachelor’s degree in Education, summa cum laude, at St. Theresa’s College (STC) in Manila, her master’s degree in Education, summa cum laude, at the University of San Carlos (USC), and her doctorate in Education, benemeritus, at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila.

Starting in 1966 she moved up the academic ladder, serving as dean of STC, chair of Graduate Education at USC, dean of the Graduate School of Education at De La Salle University in Manila, and president of Maryknoll College (now Miriam College) in Quezon City.


She also taught in the graduate schools of USC, the University of the Visayas, and Cebu Institute of Technology (now Cebu Institute of Technology – University).

She was also active in national educational organizations, as president of the Philippines Accrediting Association of Schools and as vice president of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), among others

Even after retirement, Quisumbing remained professionally active.

She was chairperson of the board of STC in Cebu, the first lay person to serve that position.

She was also chairperson of the Board of Trustees and a professor emeritus of Miriam College.

She was the president of Unesco-APNEIVE (Asia Pacific Network for International Education and Values Education) and APNIEVE Philippines, of which she was the founding president. /atm

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