ITS commercial fishing industry once gave Navotas City the title of “Fishing Capital of the Philippines” .
Today, with the local government’s aggressive initiative and the private sector’s support, Navotas is gaining the reputation of becoming a model for technical-vocational education. An increasing number of the city’s youth is developing skill sets that showcase their propensity toward tech-voc education and livelihood. Proof are the various academic tests that showed the aptitude of most Navoteños is into tech-voc, a local school official said.
“Not a very good percentage finish college; most drop out of school and get menial jobs with below-minimum wages. A lot of people are impoverished,” said Jojie Fernando, secondary principal at San Rafael Tech-Voc High School (SRTVHS) in the city’s Barangay North Bay. “The best way to turn around the life of these people is for the youth to be skilled.”
From being notoriously known as a “depressed, deprived and underserved” school, SRTVHS has been gaining respect for winning different awards, including the title as the city’s top-performing school in the National Achievement Test, and the “Exceptional School for NCR” accolade from the Department of Education from 2014 to 2016.
Fernando attributed their success to the “utmost support” of the city government and the Aboitiz Foundation, the corporate foundation of the Aboitiz Group. “It was a big turnaround for us. The mind-set has totally changed for both teachers and students. We have a caring and nurturing school environment with zero cases of drugs, teenage pregnancies, even bullying,” he said.
Together with Aboitiz Power Corp.’s oil business unit Therma Mobile Inc. (TMO), the foundation helped SRTVHS refurbish its classrooms into baking and cookery, dress-making and cosmetology laboratories. More than 900 students across all levels are now using them. The foundation also donated the necessary equipment for each tech-voc class. In collaboration with the TMO, it also provided trainings for the nine faculty members. To wit, 98 percent of the school teachers and administration, including department heads, are now being National Certificate II (NCII)-trained and certified by the Technical Educational Skills and Development Authority.
SRTVHS aims to become certified as an assessment center to free students and teachers in paying certification fees. New carpentry and welding laboratories and a four-story classroom building are now being constructed.
“We are proud of what San Rafael Tech-Voc HS has become, and equally excited for what it can still accomplish. The Aboitiz Foundation will continue to provide support to our partner schools as we cocreate communities that are safe, empowered and sustainable—driving change for a better world,” said Maribeth L. Marasigan, Aboitiz Foundation first vice president and COO. Last year the foundation helped a total of 18 tech-voc high schools, benefiting almost 800 students. It seeks to accomplish universal public education by establishing more Aboitiz Better World schools, which, in turn, support the education aspect of the United Nations’s Sustainable Development Goals.