, NOVEMBER 9, 2007 (OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY, MALACANANG) Having heard about the fate of a schoolgirl who took her life for lack of transport fare to school, among other needs in life, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo directed today the Department of Education (DepEd) to hasten and widen the implementation of its alternative distance education program.

The President stressed that while the DepEd’s priority is Metro Manila and the 10 most “food-poor” provinces, it does not mean that the poverty-alleviating program of the DepEd is exclusively for the said areas.

The victim, Marianeth Amper, 11, came from the well-off Davao region in Mindanao.

The DepEd’s alternative education program uses modules for distance learning, and is very much like the “open universities” offered by colleges and universities for their college and post-graduate courses.

In her visit and informal interaction this morning with leaders of three barangays along Katipunan Road in Quezon City where the main topic was education, President Arroyo asked how the DepEd’s alternative programs could help pupils and students in such circumstances.

DepEd Undersecretary Vilma Labrador, who showed a five-minute powerpoint presentation on the DepEd’s programs -- including its Health and Nutrition Program – said the DepEd in Region III (Central Luzon) had just launched its own “Baon Para Kay Bunso” Program.

Labrador said she used to visit students who were absent for some three days to find out what was keeping them away from school; and recommended that teachers practice the same.

The DepEd’s programs for the Elementary Level include “Alternative Learning Delivery” dubbed MISOSA for “Modified In-School and Off-School Approach” in education.

The DepEd also has a feeding and rice take-home program for identified pupils from pre-school to Grade VI numbering 2.6 million nationwide; plus the 1.2 million based in the national capital region, or a total of 3.8 million pupils.

Further, the DepEd has a “Gulayan sa Paaralan” projects where students harvest the vegetables and take these home as additional food for the family table.

The President visited the university area of Matandang Balara, Pansol and Loyola Heights in Quezon City where she awarded vocational scholarships to interested students whom she urged to try the in-demand welding, call-center and butchering industries.

Impoverished QC youths get scholarships from PGMA

Impoverished youths in Quezon City who can only watch in envy as well-off scions of rich families drive to prestigious schools lining Katipunan Avenue can now heave a sigh of relief.

Thanks to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Showing her concern for those who can only dream of pursuing college degrees, the President released today 375 scholarship vouchers in the area barely three days after granting an additional P350 million for call-center training for interested youths, especially those with basic fluency in English.

This, even as three known universities operate along Katipunan Avenue, namely, the Ateneo de Manila University, Miriam College and the University of the Philippines.

The 375 scholarship vouchers were divided equally to three barangays – Pansol, Matandang Balara, and even to well-off Loyola Heights.

Loyola Heights Barangay Chairman Cesar Noguera reported to the President that not all youths in the barangay can afford to go to college, and welcomed the scholarship vouchers that are meant to enroll them in practical courses with waiting employers.

The other vouchers were given to Pansol Barangay Chair Dominic Flores and to Matandang Balara Chair Beda Torreocampo.

The President advised the youths who trooped to the barangay inter-action at the Loyola Heights barangay hall to go for the high-demand courses – welding, call center training and butchering.

Early this week, the President had expressed her elation over the country’s victory in the prestigious London-based search for the best off-shoring and out-sourcing destination in the world.

The Philippines was given the “Outsourcing Destination Award” by the highly prestigious 4th Annual Awards of the National Outsourcing Association (NOA) in ceremonies held in London, England last Oct. 19.

So elated was the President over the country’s feat in business process outsourcing (BPO) that she immediately granted the P350 million in additional training funds for 70,000 interested youths.

The President ordered the allocation of the additional call center training fund on the day she graced the launching of the “Offshoring and Outsourcing Philippines: Roadmap 2010” by the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) last Monday at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel.

The BPAP recognized and thanked President Arroyo for her government’s focus on BPO training via the PGMA Training for Work Scholarship Program (PGMA-TWSP), saying it helped prop up the country as the top BPO destination.

The PGMA-TWSP, which is administered by the TESDA, has so far graduated the following number of trainees from May 2006 to September 2007: a total of about 37,300 call center agents, 49 percent of whom have found jobs; some 5,000 medical transcriptionists at 54-percent rate of employment; and some 230 software developers, 81 percent of whom are now employed.

The BPO sector is considered as one of the fastest growing business sectors in the country today. In less than 10 years, it has provided jobs to some 235,000 Filipinos, and earned some $ 3.3 billion in revenues for the country, thus contributing roughly two percent to national GDP.

The Philippines presently enjoys a five-percent share of the global BPO market; but the BPAP is hoping to capture its “10x10” dream: 10 percent market share (worth $13 billion) by the year 2010.

The President’s infusion of P350 million in fresh training funds is expected to spur training and workforce development in the sector, thus helping the BPAP meet its 10x10 dream of cornering 10 percent of the global market share of BPOs by the year 2010.

This projected increase will raise total direct employment to 900,000, or an increase of more than 600,000 jobs, as well as create 1.2 million to 1.5 million more new indirect jobs.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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