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Partnerships in Learning

Speaking before 26 resilient SHS (senior high school) students from the Concepcion Pequena National High School in Naga City at Jaime’s Hall in Mariners Canaman Campus yesterday afternoon, I was struck by their unwavering determination. These young Bicolano teenagers, often from low-income families, are not deterred by poverty. Instead, they have chosen to embark on learning course programs that provide skills for employability, demonstrating their eagerness to work and contribute to society.  

These students were part of the Joint Delivery Voucher Program (JDVP) of the Department of Education for SHS enrolled in the Technical Vocational Livelihood (TVL) track, are living proof of the transformative power of vocational education.  Twenty of them pursued Cookery and six chose Bread and Pastry Production under the guidance of the Mariners Polytechnic Colleges Foundation Culinary Department. They dedicated 320 hours to their chosen track, with free tuition assistance from the JDVP-TVL program. As partners, Mariners awarded all the students with NC II certificates, a national certification from an accredited TESDA center. Their achievements were celebrated by the DepEd Program Head Dr Herman Bobis, their school principal, Jaimito de Leon and their teachers, alongside Mariners VPAA Armie Olea, Registar Mayette Reelloso and SHS principal Neneth Madronero.

I was not surprised at all. Many are children of parents who belong to the working class - construction workers, buy-and-sell vendors, public utility drivers, and farm laborers.  Some parents struggle to keep their families fed and well with odd jobs in the streets and their barangays. One of the students had confided to a teacher how he wished he would continue to continue schooling and study at Mariners to become a seafarer or even a captain of the ship. But because of poverty, he believes he might as well pursue his new-found skill in cooking now that he has earned his NC II certificate of competency. He later learned that his new competency could be an added valuable know-how onboard the ship if he still pursues his dream of being a seafarer.


I was not well-versed in the TVL program when I spoke at the graduation of the JVDP-TVL program graduates.  Quickly, I learned soon that it is a program with the Dep-Ed designed to optimize vocational-technical learning by allowing SHS students enrolled in the public schools to avail of the DepEd voucher and take their TVL specialization in eligible partner institutions like Mariners offering their desired specialization and with complete facilities. The TVL is one of the four tracks offered in SHS, namely the Agri-Fishery Arts (AFA) Strand, Home Economics (HE) Strand, Industrial Arts (IA) Strand, and the Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

I learned that many students prefer to take the TVL strand because it offers a student-centered learning approach that allows more flexibility in learning and better workplace exposure. It is a viable option for students who may need help pursuing college or want to earn income immediately.  Many enroll in home economics because it is a specialization that teaches skills like cooking, nutrition, and hygiene that can lead to careers in food services or allow students to manage their households or set up their own enterprises.

Mariners has been a long-time partner of the JVDP-TVL program of the DepEd for SHS since its inception in 2013. It has a curriculum combining Core Courses and specialized hands-on courses that meets the Technical Education and Skills Development AuthorityTESDA competency-based assessment. Students could take the National Certification Assessments for NC II at the end of the course. TESDA is the lead government agency tasked to supervise the Philippines’ technical and vocational education and skills development. It was created by virtue of Republic Act 7796, otherwise known as the “Technical Education and Skills Development Act of 1994,” and provided with operational funds.

Last Tuesday, at the regular Mariners SED meeting of the two-year “Developing Social Enterprise for Economic Resilience of Disaster Survivors in Bicol” funded by the Commission on Higher Education Central office, observations arose about the difficulties encountered in developing social enterprises. Extremely needed is the need to raise social awareness and develop skills that include analytical skills, conceptual skills, communication skills, interpersonal skills, leadership skills, teamwork skills, social skills, and hard and soft skills.  

In both the SED project and the TVL, systematic education can make learners become leaders with social values, flexible and versatile skills, and more adaptable to different work environments. They learn the rudiments of entrepreneurship and can work as a team or start their businesses with the skills they have learned. Recently, the SED project not only provided agriculture-based training but also for health and wellness like massage or hilot, cooking, food processing, accessories, handicrafts, and social enterprises, which jibe well with the TVL strand on tourism, beauty and wellness, culinary, and even clothing and apparel. Partners for health and wellness trainor Paz Notario Sumayao and Bernard Buniel are indispensable partners.

Partnerships are the backbone of every successful program. The JVDP became a powerful strategy when the DepEd joined forces with private schools like Mariners, which provided complete facilities and a dedicated faculty for its Technical Vocational Livelihood (TVL). training.  The SED project, a thriving collaboration led by Mariners and Tabang Bikol Movement, is another testament to the importance of partnerships in vocational and technical education.


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