Learning skills and pursuing dreams with ALS

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Sunday, July 6, 2014


SHE went through hard times.

Her parents separated when she was 13 years old and already in school. As a consequence of a broken family, she was left without the parents to support her education. But she was able to complete her first year in high school as a working student.

In the succeeding years, she joined the population of the out of school youth (OSY) of Villanueva, Misamis Oriental.

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Remelyn Mat-ao Abaco, 31, said that in the years prior to 2009, she had to contend herself earning P120 a week working at a lumberyard sorting and tying bundles of slabs and sticks for firewood. To augment her income, she sold ‘balut’ at night, did the neighbor’s laundry, peddled assorted vegetables she bought from farmers and accepted menial labor, at times, classified only for men. She had no choice but to make ends meet for her family - a sickly carpenter husband and three children - to survive.

In spite of her situation, Remelyn, 25, decided to pursue her education through the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Alternative Learning System (ALS) and passed the accreditation and equivalency test (AET), which rendered her a high school graduate with a National Competency Level 2 certificate.

Remelyn is thankful to Remedios Virador, ALS District coordinator, whom she considers as her mother of education. “I could not have finished high school and improved my living condition if I did not listen and take the counsel of mama Remy.”

ALS

It was Virador who encouraged Remelyn to try ALS. This helped Remelyn harmonize her time, juggling the hours between being the family’s bread winner and a student.

“It was not easy at first, but we were able to find ways and sustain her ALS sessions.We did it through home visitations on weekends.” Virador said.

Virador said the same scheme is being done to the rest of the OSYs in ALS who find it hard to attend regular classes because their priority was to earn a living.

She said that ALS program, since its inception, has already accommodated more than 1000 OSY residents of Villanueva town.

Skills

In 2011, Steag State Power Inc. (SPI) heightened its involvement, as a part of the company’s corporate social responsibility in its host municipality, and offered scholarships under Project Strengthening Knowledge in Life-long Skills (Skills) program for OSYs who took advantage of the ALS and passed the AET.

Those who qualified pursued vocational and technological courses and earned employable skills – carpentry, masonry, construction painting, electrical installation and maintenance, plumbing, and in the ladderized hotel and restaurant services.

Skills is a partnership program of the Local Government Unit of Villanueva, Cagayan de Oro (Bugo) School of Arts and Trade (Cobsat), the Technical Education and Skills Authority (Tesda), The Department of Labor and Employment, DepEd and SPI.

Skills were designed to give opportunities to make the lives of OSYs in Villanueva town productive and become responsible members of the community. SPI donates P160,000 excluding the computers, office cabinets, other learning materials and equipment for the ALS.

Remelyn finished the ladderized hotel and restaurant services and was conferred with Tesda’s Certificate of Competency, proof that she met the country's standards on workers' Qualification and Certification System (QCS).

She is currently employed in the ALS as assistant to her mentors, Virador and Rodel de la Torre, ALS instructural manager. She earns P5,000 a month regular pay.

“I am just waiting for the opportunity where I can practice my skill in the Hotel and Restaurant Services.” Remelyn said with a smile.

The 2014 batch is composed of 77 new scholars under the Skills program, which is an offshoot of the ALS.

“The Project Skills Program aims to amplify the opportunities of the OSYs in its host community in Villanueva by equipping the beneficiaries with skills through scholarship grants, thus giving them a bigger chance to be employed,” said Jerome Soldevilla, SPI Communications officer in an interview.

Since the start of the Skills program in 2011, of the 246 OSY beneficiaries, 236 were conferred the Tesda Certificate of Competency, proof that they have met the country's standards on workers' Qualification and Certification System (QCS).

Tesda’s QCS will attest to a worker’s national and even global competitiveness.

SPI said that around 138 Project SKILLS scholars, 56 percent of the beneficiaries are now gainfully employed or engaged as service contractors in various private and public business establishments in Villanueva town and other parts in Mindanao. Eight of the successful scholars are now Overseas Filipino Workers.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 06, 2014.

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