DATU SAUDI AMPATUAN, Maguindanao (MindaNews / 18 Nov) – “Today is a significant day in your life,” said Ruby Andong, Regional Director of the Technical Education and Skills Development of the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE-TESD) of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
She was addressing 166 graduates of various technical vocational courses during a commencement rites held Wednesday morning in the covered court of this municipality.
“Ang kursong natapos ninyo ay magiging daan sa progresibong pamumuhay (The course that you completed will be your way towards a progressive life),” Andong added, as she exhorted the graduates to make productive use of the vocational skills that they have learned.
The graduates are young people, with ages ranging from 21 to 30, coming from the municipalities of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Datu Hoffer Ampatuan and Datu Piang, all in Maguindanao. They are scholars of the Islamic Relief Worldwide Philippines and MBHTE-TESD who took courses in organic agriculture, bread and pastry production, dressmaking, driving, plant crops production and land preparation, and carpentry.
The scholarship from IRW-Philippines came with the provision of livelihood starter kits that will be collectively owned in groups. This included carpentry tools, sewing machine, gas stove oven, cooking utensils, materials for organic fertilizer production, gardening tools, and seeds.
“These starter kits are provided in order to help the scholars immediately start their respective economic enterprises,” said Joy Daman, livelihood development officer of IRW-Philippines.
“This project is part of our efforts to stabilize peace in the communities where we are working by providing economic opportunities to the local residents, especially the youth and women,” Daman added.
In BARMM, the MBHTE targeted to enroll 7,000 out-of-school youth in TESDA courses in 2020. “Around 75% of this target have been achieved,” Andong said.
In 2021 the MBHTE planned to increase the number of enrollees to 1,400 individuals.
(Jules L. Benitez is the Peacebuilding Project Manager of IRW-Philippines and is a contributor to MindaNews.)