To ensure that they get hired, their skills will be certified by duly-recognized government trade testing and certifying agencies based on their chosen specialization.
Rufino Redoble, Department of Education (DepEd) Region 12 technical-vocational coordinator, said the students are the very first beneficiaries of the Enriched Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE) Program, a component of the Department of Education's (DepEd) Career Pathways in Enriched TLE Program for General High Schools, which was launched at the Koronadal National Comprehensive High School (KNCHS) here on Thursday.
He said the program, a new initiative of the department, was introduced this school year in 100 pilot schools nationwide, including the KNCHS.
“This is the department's response to the high unemployment rate and the rising number of unskilled workers in the country. The program aims to address these problems by equipping young students with specialized entrepreneurial and technical-vocational skills by the time they finish high school,” Redoble said.
Perfecto Asibal, KNCHS Vocational Department officer-in-charge, said they have introduced electronics, food and food services as the initial specialization programs for the school's two pilot classes.
Next year, he said they will offer Information and Communication Technology, Automotive Technology, Civil Technology, Drafting Technology, Electrical Technology, Handicrafts, Metal Works, Refrigeration and Airconditioning, Agriculture and Fishery Technology, Clothing and Textiles, Health Care and Support Services, Beauty Care and Home Management Business.
Asibal said 30 students have signed up for the electronics class of the Vocational Department and another 30 students chose the food and food services of the Home Economics Department.
Under the electronics program, Asibal said the students can become electronic draftsmen or assembler after completing their first year program.
After the third year, he said they may be able to work as radio mechanics, audio service technicians and cellphone service technician.
“By the time they graduate from high school, they may be eligible for TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) certifications on cellular phone servicing and consumer electronics servicing NC II,” he said.
On the other hand, Asibal said those under the foods and food services program may seek TESDA certification for bartending, housekeeping, household services, food and beverage services, baking/pastry production and food processing, all under NC (Noise Cancelling) II level.
He said all these programs would be integrated with entrepreneurial subjects or courses focusing on the specializations.
Asibal said the introduction of the Enriched TLE Program to their school is a positive move since it would eventually help reduce their growing number of dropouts every year.
“Students who wish to continue with their studies but are hard-up financially may use their learned skills to seek employment while studying,” he said.
Citing the case of KNCHS, Asibal said at least 837 students or 13.26 percent of the 6,313 who enrolled in June 2006 have dropped out of school for various reasons, among them extreme poverty.
He said the school's dropout rate has been steadily increasing since school year 2003-2004, where they recorded a 10.98 percent dropout rate.
Juanito Cueva, TESDA Region 12 director, vowed to provide various assistance to the school for the proper implementation of its technical-vocational programs.
He said their agency will sponsor trainers’ training programs for the designated instructors of the Enriched TLE Program's subject area's or programs.
“We will synchronize our programs to make sure that the students will learn the necessary skills required for the TESDA certification,” he said.
City Councilor Gregorio Ogoy, chair of the council's committee on labor, manpower and employment, said he will file a resolution that will seek financial support from the city government to further enhance the program’s implementation.
“The LGU (local government unit) is duty-bound to support this kind of program. I will personally propose scholarships for this,” he added.