SM Foundation strengthens support to Tech-Voc Education

While the SM scholarship program supports 1,500 scholars every year, school year 2016-2017 though is unique. There will be fewer scholars matriculating for four- and five-year baccalaureate degrees due to the full implementation of the K-12 basic education curriculum. Grade 10 students of school year 2015-2016 will then be the pioneer Senior High School Students as stipulated in Republic Act 10533 thus becoming the first batch to take on the additional two years of basic education schooling.

In the past, regular SM college scholars were enrolled in over 80 partner colleges and universities nationwide.  Yearly, the Foundation welcomes a new batch of scholars to fill in the slots left by scholar graduates.  For school year 2015-2016, it opened its doors to 275 new scholars.  According to Carmen Linda Atayde SM Foundation Inc. Executive Director for Education, this school year “we count a few scholars coming from the experimental Senior High School classes conducted by DepEd. There may also be a select few who may have passed previous scholarship screening but opted to postpone schooling.”

In spite of fewer college scholars for the coming schoolyear, SM Foundation will honor its commitment to assist financially-constrained students with their education by strengthening its Technical-Vocational Scholarship Program.  Its longtime partnership with Don Bosco Makati Technical Institute has afforded training for those inclined to pursue technical/vocational courses including out-of-school youths.

At present, the Foundation maintains 40 scholars at the Don Bosco Makati Technical Institute’s Technical Vocational Education Training Center (TVET).  Eleanor Lansang, SM Foundation, Inc. Assistant Vice President, says the Foundation is increasing the number of technical/vocational scholarship slots to 1,000  in various Don Bosco schools nationwide and in other technical/vocational institutions.

The TVET Center at Don Bosco is a school for the poor and out of school youth offering a 15-month vocational training in Automotive Technology , Fitter Mechanist Technology, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning and Electrical mechanical Technology.  The courses involve 10 months of classroom lectures and hands-on training after which the students go on an on-the-job training at partner companies. The students are assessed and given certification by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) so by the time the students finish schooling, they would have earned a National Certification. The TVET Center is located in the Don Bosco Technical Institute-Makati campus. Bro. Elmer Rodriguez, Industrial Relations & Resource Mobilization Officer of the Don Bosco Technical Institute in Makati says,  “training at the Center is holistic; students are given Christian Living education with values formation, retreats and recollection, personality development, and guidance and counseling.  By the end of their training, they are expected to exhibit the Bosconian qualities of honesty, respectfulness, gratefulness, joy and optimism. They are trained to perform ordinary duties extra-ordinarily.” Rodriguez also heads the Ampon ni Don Bosco where students from the provinces can stay dormitory-style in the facility until they finish their schooling.

The importance of technical/vocational programs is undeniable.  Under the Senior High School curriculum Industrial Arts Strand is the Technical-Vocational-Track.  With acquired skills, Senior High School students thus become employable as soon as they graduate. It also addresses the unemployment problem partly because of the lack of skills among those in the labor force. Gone is the traditional attitude towards technical and vocational work. A greater respect for the blue-collar worker now exists.