With the local government’s idealism and commitment to education, Taguig City is now home to board exam topnotchers, many professionals and competitive schools that not only battle local institutions but top schools abroad, as well.
The city also ensures that education is totally free in the city from preschool to college, and removed all hindrances in enrolling in school by providing free head-to-toe uniforms, school bags, and school supplies. Classrooms in the city are now equipped with air conditioning units, while CCTV cameras were also installed in all of the city’s public schools. In response to the growing problem of overpopulation in schools, the local government launched in 2011 the Taguig Learner’s Certificate (TLC) program which aims to decongest public high schools to create better learning atmosphere by transferring some public high school students to private ones.
The city, through the Lifeline Assistance for Neighbors’ In-need (LANI) Scholarship Program, has also given away more than 38,000 scholarships to deserving Taguig students.
As in past interviews, the Mayor underscored that her Administration placed greater emphasis on human capital investment — that is investing in the education and health of its people. She said, “A healthy and educated city resident can be more productive than those who are not. Health and education empower the people to greater productivity, hopefully resulting in a better quality of life.” From what I have seen, this direction appears not only to be right; it is also inspiring and contagious, and the people of Taguig are beginning to reap the fruits of its programs.
In 2009, Taguig ranked 13th only out of the 17 local government units in Metro Manila in the National Achievement Test (NAT). By investing heavily in basic education through the provision of a complete set of notebooks and books, school supplies, health kits, bags, 3 sets of ready-to-wear uniform and a pair of shoes, and shouldering almost anything that they would have otherwise shouldered themselves, enrolment and completion rates improved, and even school performance significantly grew. Mayor Cayetano said,“We do not want our children, and their family, to have reasons not to go to school. We want our children to go to school, learn the proper knowledge, attitudes, and skills, and finish their studies.”
By 2012, Taguig’s NAT ranking jumped to 7th, then it jumped further to number 3 in 2013! The city’s ranking in the Alternative Learning System (ALS)-Accreditation and Equivalency Test also improved to third in elementary, and fourth in high school in the entire National Capital Region (NCR) in 2013. Its 34 public schools have also won in various local and international competitions, and are steadfast in producing more UPCAT passers and DOST scholars. In fact, one of the city’s high school graduates even landed as an Oblation Scholar of the University of the Philippines, having been ranked in the Top 50, among the thousands who took the UPCAT.
Aside from the free supplies, uniforms, and services like free graduation, JS prom, scouting and other school activities shouldered by the City Government for its students in public schools, it has also provided state-of-the-art computer laboratories in its quest for globally-competitive students.
There is also the Taguig Learners’ Certificate (TLC) Program, the city’s innovation of the voucher system, which aims to decongest the public schools by supporting public school elementary graduates who want to study in private schools in the city. This mechanism decongest the public secondary schools leading to smaller class size and better learning environment for both the TLC beneficiary and those studying in the public schools. The City supports the TLC beneficiaries with a maximum of P10,000 for tuition fee and P5,000 for books and other miscellaneous expenses. Many TLC beneficiaries are now excelling in their studies.
Of course, the teachers are also properly taken care of. The City Government gives them all the legally-allowable benefits. The City also helps improve the teacher-student ratio by hiring locally-funded teachers and giving them salaries and benefits comparable to what the Department of Education pays its teachers. Teachers, both from public and private schools in Taguig, may also apply under the Scholarship Program for their masteral and doctoral degrees. According to Mayor Cayetano, “We are supporting our teachers with financial benefits and even scholarship grants for their graduate studies because we believe that these will allow them to focus and be more effective in teaching.” She added, “By supporting them to take up graduate studies, our teachers acquire new skills and knowledge. They also earn points for promotion. These will all redound to the benefit of our students.”
The achievements in education also extend to the scholars in tertiary and graduate education. The Scholarship Program is designed to help Taguigeño high school graduates continue with their studies, either in college or in tech-voc courses, with scholarship support amounting to a high of P50,000 per year to a low of P10,000 per year, effective next school year. It also gives P10,000 assistance to first-time board examination takers and P5,000 to repeaters. It also supports performing Taguigeño teachers and other government employees serving in Taguig in their masteral and doctoral studies with a P10,000 to P30,000 scholarship grant per semester and a thesis/dissertation grant of P40,000. This program has encouraged a lot of the city’s young people to continue with their education and exert more effort in their studies, knowing that their city cares for them.
From the start of the Scholarship Program in 2011 up to December 2013, more than 36,000 scholarship applications, representing around 24,000 individuals, were processed and approved.These City Scholars are enrolled in 58 colleges and universities comprised of 7 state universities and colleges, 7 local colleges and universities, and 44 private schools. The city’s “cream of the crop” or its best and brightest that are classified under Full, Premier, and Priority Scholarship totals to 1,081 individual scholars. They receive P20,000 per semester and are given merit incentives of P5,000 per semester if their general weighted average is 1.75 or better, or its equivalent. The City’s Premier scholars number 476, with more than half of them in the University of the Philippines’ different campuses.
Among the thousands of college graduates and city-supported board examination takers, by God’s grace, a City Scholar topped the Electrical Engineering Board Examination recently! One landed 3rd in Marine Engineering, another also landed 3rd in the Radiologic Technology Board Exam, another landed 6th in Metallurgical Engineering, still another landed 6th in Community Nutrition Board, and two landed 9th in separate Nursing Board examinations!
This shows that Taguig’s comprehensive and well-designed scholarship program is encouraging its people to hope, dream high, and excel. Research shows that students with incentive scholarships or renewable scholarships that require students to maintain certain grade averages, units enrolled, and the like do better than those receiving unsolicited scholarships (which are scholarships that students receive automatically without applying), and that scholarship recipients are more highly motivated and therefore more likely to succeed.
Feedback sheets are given to scholars to fill up and from initial processing of these and interaction with parents, the following are evident:
First, many residents were encouraged and enabled to pursue further studies. Residents who have stopped studying or are on the verge of stopping are now continuing their studies because of the program. This includes Top 10 graduates of public schools who earlier stopped studying because of financial constraints. Some public high school graduates, who initially considered not enrolling are encouraged to pursue further studies because of the Program, which also serves as an economic incentive for pursuing further training/education.
Second, many scholars were encouraged to do better in their studies/board exams. Scholars say that just being part of the Scholarship Program with its maintaining requirements and/or expectations from outside the family and encouragement from the Mayor and the City Government to study hard is a big boost to the efforts of the scholars to study better. Since application is semestral and the program has a 2.5 maintaining average requirement, the scholars are always on the look-out not to fail or drop their subjects. Those who have merit incentives attached to their scholarship are more encouraged to aspire for much higher grades, but even those with no merit incentives also study better.
Third, many have a brighter outlook of government. One of the eye-openers for the City Government’s Scholarship Team is the fact that during the first semester of the program, despite many information dissemination efforts, only a few hundred students applied when the qualified applicants should be running by the thousands. The program’s applicants increased with time. The feedback sheets and interaction with the scholars and parents revealed the reason for the seeming scarcity of applicants at first — they did not believe that the program was true, or if they believed it, they did not think their application will be accepted or approved because their families are identified with the other political camp.
The scholars’ feedback sheets indicate new hopes for better governance in the country. Scholars now get to think it is possible for a government to really serve the public interest and set aside personal and political differences. The scholars note that the government, given the right people, can really be an instrument of hope and positive change. My interview with members of the Scholarship Team reveals that the Mayor herself gave specific instructions that all qualified applicants, regardless of political inclination or identification, as long as they have complied with all the requirements, should be granted scholarship benefits.
I was given an opportunity to scan through thousands of feedback sheets of the scholars, and among those that stood out are the following:
“Ang LANI Scholarship Program ay isang simbolo ng pag-asa sa aming mahihirap. Pag-asa na may makakain kami sa hapag-kainan na masasarap na pagkain. Pag-asa na makaka-aral pa ako at ang aking mga kapatid. Pag-asa na may bagong buhay para sa amin…”
– Mark Joseph Lobete,
2nd year, Full Scholar
“Malaki ang naitulong nito sa aking pamilya dahil hindi madaling magbayad sa pagrereview… Sa tulong po ng programang ito, ang bawat mag-aaral ay mas nagsusumikap. Dahil po sa scholarship na ito, maraming pamilya ang nabibigyan ng pag-asa na makapag-aral ang bawat miyembro ng pamilya.”
– Rigelyn Merca,
Review Assistance Grantee, LET
“Nagkaroon po ako ng pag-asang maipagpatuloy ang aking pag-aaral dahil sa programang ito.”
– Bryan Pablo Nones,
2nd year, Basic Scholar
“Kung wala ang LANI Scholarship, hindi ko po matatapos ang kursong kinukuha ko sa ngayon, at hindi po ako makakapag-aral sa school na gusto ko.”
– Hanna Neah Infante,
1st year, Basic plus SUC Scholar
“Malaking tulong ang LANI Scholarship Program sa akin at sa aking pamilya sa pang-araw-araw na gastusin lalo na sa aking pag-aaral. Dahil dito, ako ngayon ay graduating na.”
– Aaron Taparan,
4th year, Basic plus SUC Scholar
“Kung hindi po dahil sa scholarship, hindi po ako makakapagpatuloy ng pag-aaral ko. Gagawin ko po ang lahat para magsilbi sa ating bayan.”
– Melanie de la Cruz,
“Sobrang proud po ako na isa akong Taguigeño na LANI scholar. Marami po sa aking classmates ang naiinggit sa sistema ng Taguig City. Handa po akong magbalik sa pamamagitan ng pag-aaral nang mabuti.”
– April Ann Castino,
2nd year, Premier Scholar
“Sa loob ng apat na taon na ako po ay natulungan ng LANI Scholarship, masasabi ko pong higit pa ang naibigay nito sa akin. Hindi lang pinansyal na tulong ngunit pag-asa na mayroong tumitingin sa kahalagahan ng pag-aaral hindi lang para sa kakaunting unit sa karamihan. Isang walang-hanggang pasasalamat po.”
– Anna Marie Nuez,
4th year, Full Scholar
Taguig City University (TCU)
Aside from the City’s Scholars, the more than 15,000 students at the Taguig City University are also full scholars of the City because the City Government shoulders all the tuition fees and miscellaneous expenses. The Cayetano Administration, in its desire for its people to continue and finish their studies, has enforced a “No Collection Policy” in the undergraduate level.
The TCU students and graduates are reaping the fruits of the efforts of the City Government, TCU Administration, faculty, and staff. In the September 2013 Licensure Examination for Teachers, TCU ranked first among all local universities and colleges with its passing rate of 84.85 percent. In the October 2013 Criminology Board Examination, TCU ranked 2nd among all local universities and colleges and 3rd overall under Category A with 126 passers and a 79.25 percent passing rate. In the registered master electrician board examination, TCU had a passing rate of 90.92 percent. TCU is also excelling in sports. In the Association of Local Colleges and Universities Athletic Association Games, TCU placed 3rd overall.