COTABATO CITY -- A leading technical college here has recently joined the growing number of schools that are partnering with USAid's Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) Program to improve the employability of their graduates in key industries.

Cotabato City Polytechnic College is the latest school to take part in GEM's Job Enabling English Proficiency (Jeep) Project, which is designed to equip students of partner colleges and universities with the English language skills needed for gainful employment in sectors such as business process outsourcing (BPO), travel and tourism, nursing and allied healthcare, maritime services and other areas of international business.

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Jeep is comprised of two groups of courses offered to qualified college students. The first, called Jeep-Start, lasts for a year and includes computer-assisted instruction to develop advanced General English language skills.

The second course, Jeep-Accelerate, which also takes a year, utilizes mixed-mode instruction and focuses on English for Specific Purposes (ESP), which prepares students to take international English tests and helps them hone their answering skills in job interviews, as a means to obtaining gainful employment.

Cotabato City Polytechnic College, with population of 3,200, began implementing Jeep-Start in July of this year. The school received 41 computers from GEM, which are being used by approximately 410 Jeep-Start students currently enrolled in the program.

Following the initial implementation of Jeep-Start by six partner-colleges and universities in June 2009, seven additional colleges began offering Jeep in November, 2009, and another four colleges, including Cotabato City Polytechnic College, joined the Jeep Project in June 2010. To date, more than 5,000 students are enrolled in Jeep-Start, while approximately 1,000 are now in Jeep-Accelerate. By November 2010, more than 8,000 students will be enrolled in Jeep courses.