SM Foundation Partners with Punlaan School to promote Technical Training

(Left) SM Foundation Scholar Hazel Berbano from the 19th batch of graduates from Punlaan School. (Right) Graduates of 2014 with Punlaan School officials and teachers.

A partnership between SM Foundation and Punlaan School to provide scholarship to deserving young girls who want to pursue careers in the restaurant and hotel industry is now starting to yield positive outcomes with scholar-graduates now employed and helping their families improve their standards of living.

Hazel Berbano, an SM Foundation scholar was one of the graduates of Batch 19 from Punlaan School and  is now a Butler at the Intercontinental Hotel.  She considers her entry to Punlaan School “a blessing from God.”   According to her,  studying at “ Punlaan is not a joke, ” a statement she often heard from other graduates. “We were not only studying, we were working & training in our chosen field at the same time in various industry partners like hotels, resorts/restaurants .” Aside from providing hope for the future with the livelihood and employment skills,  Punlaan inculcated in the students,  proper work attitude and Christian values that for Berbano  “formed me into a well-rounded person. “

Majority of the Punlaan students are funded by the SM Foundation and these scholars are consistent student awardees. Joyce Frayna was First Honor Awardee in 2012 while in 2013, Angelica Velasco was the top student awardee.

Punlaan School, the flagship school of the Foundation for Professional Training Incorporated (FPTI) started operations in 1975 as a school for helpers. The non-stock, non-profit NGO is now a technical school as well as tourism training center, recognized by the Technical Education and Skills Development authority (TESDA) and the Department of Tourism.

When Punlaan School adopted the dual training system in 1993, it had 12 industry partners.  The number has increased to 70, most of them in hotel, restaurant and tourism-related industry.  Berbano had her on-the-job training at the Intercontinental Hotel, one the school’s industry partners.  She was hired immediately after graduation as Butler at Club Intercontinental Lounge for one year and seven months and will now be moving to the hotel’s Purchasing Office.

Punlaan School offers scholarship for a two-year Diploma course in Food and Beverage Services. The scholarship includes free tuition fee for twelve months in school training, free 12 months on-the- job training, free books, cooking and baking ingredients, monthly stipend starting on the 7th month of the program, and one-on-one mentoring. To qualify for the scholarship, the applicant must be between 16-21 years old; high school graduate; with a general grade average of 80%; at least 5’2” in height; single, physically fit and with pleasing personality.

The school has a population of 130 students. Four months after enrolment, students undertake their qualifying examinations to determine who can continue with the program. According to the School Registrar, dropout rate is 20% per cent.  Reasons for dropping out are varied, however, like failing health; still others can no longer afford the transportation expense which is not included in the scholarship and many other personal reasons.

Those who persevere and finish the diploma course are given the first priority to be hired by the partner company where they had their on-the-job training. During its recent commencement exercises, 59 students finished the two-year course. Most of the graduates are now employed.

Among the career opportunities for the graduates are as kitchen attendants, pastry attendants, pantry attendants, bar attendants or baristas, and food attendants.

The scholarship provided by SM Foundation is in line with its mission of helping underprivileged but deserving high school graduates pursue college education. For those who do not intend to earn a four-year degree, they can enroll in partner schools like Punlaan School, which offers technical vocation training for a shorter period of study. SM Foundation also supports students taking technical-vocational courses at Don Bosco Technical School.