by Juseph Elas
“Speak out because this is a government that listens to you!”
Striking words from the City Government of Zamboanga as it calls the youth to creatively engage in the program planning of the city as the second leg of the #SpeakOutZamboanga project kicked off anew wherein another pressing issue in the youth sector was put-forth into the spotlight, discussed, while various organizations gave their solutions to help mitigate its crippling effects.
The second “Speak Out! The Zamboanga Youth Forum 2014” was held at Garden Orchid Hotel this city, July 30, and was actively participated by various academes; Ateneo de Zamboanga University, Western Mindanao State University, Zamboanga City State Polytechnic College, and Zamboanga National High School MEIN to name some, out-of-school youths, and different youth organizations from different barangays.
Through a survey conducted by USAID-Enhancing Governance, Accountability and Engagement (ENGAGE), together with other bodies namely: Mindanao Youth for Development (MYDev), Mindanao Health (MinHealth), Peope to People (P2P), Social Action Center of the Archiodecese of Zamboanga (SAC) and City Public Information Office (CPIO), the organizers were able to narrow this month’s forum to one issue: education.
As the rate of Out-Of-School-Youths and dropouts continue to rise astronomically, the local government, Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) were invited to hear out the problems of the youth concerning education and offered solutions to these existing problems.
Speaking at the event, representative from CHED, Teresita Pinili, highlighted the causes as to why there is an increase in the rate of dropouts and out-of-school youths. Top two reasons are (1) the distance of their houses from the school and (2) the need to work for livelihood for the family.
Through the said forum, CHED gave a list of programs and alternative learning system to cater the needs of the youths still wanting to pursue education despite their present predicament.
“As of this year, we have 10,000 scholarship slots for incoming freshmen,” Pinili said. Pinili also mentioned that the scholarship is also available for persons with disability (PWDs).
However, the scholarship is only limited to priority programs outlined by CHED. Agriculture, engineering, health-related programs and arts and humanities are some of the priority programs of CHED.
Martin Wee from DOST was also present in the forum to highlight the different scholarships and educational support of the said agency to respond to the problems in education the youth is confronted with.
“DOST support to education includes scholarship program (matriculation, allowances, tickets) to Philippine Science High School (PSHS),” Wee said. DOST is also offering scholarships for those who want to pursue Master’s and Doctoral degrees in any science and technology related courses.
And lastly, TESDA gave their side of solution to the problem by highlighting programs offered by the said agency.
Private Education Student Financial Assistance (PESFA) provides assistance to marginalized but deserving students in technical-vocational education. Benefits that include the said scholarship program are student allowance, free training cost, book allowance and assessment fee.
Also, in the advent of the BPO industry, TESDA is also offering English proficiency training for those who want to apply for a call center agency.
3rd Leg Of The Forum
Speak Out! The Zamboanga Youth Forum 2014 is a monthly informal conversation where youths can voice out their concerns and where proper agencies are invited to hear them out and offer their solutions to these concerns.
The discussions of the next forum will center to reproductive health of the youth. No specific date was given by the organizers for the 3rd leg of the forum. Given the amount of popular support from the youth sector, concerning agencies and local government of Zamboanga, the organizers are positive that the next leg will be a success.