STATE skills training agency Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) will give free skills training to thousands of Muslim out-of-school youth in Mindanao and indigenous peoples in Cordillera and Caraga regions starting this year.
TESDA Director General Guiling “Gene” Mamondiong said the agency has allotted at least 60,000 scholarship slots for the Muslim youth in far-flung areas in Mindanao as well as the indigenous peoples.
“As far as Moros or Muslims and indigenous peoples in this country are concerned, these people are victims of injustices and to correct these injustices, we are giving emphasis to our exclusive program for them,” Mamondiong said in an interview over the weekend.
“We have allocated 60,000 [scholarship]slots exclusively for them. This is the first time that the government is providing skills training for Muslim brothers,” the TESDA chief added.
Mamondiong, however, admitted the agency is having difficulty in reaching out these peoples since most of them are living in remote areas.
“There is difficulty of convincing them to avail of this opportunity because skills training are very foreign to them. So, we have to reach out for the families, the villages, and talk to them the importance of skills training,” he stressed.
“Communications are so hard in those areas, so we have to partner with non-government organizations, especially the religious leaders,” the TESDA chief added.
Mamondiong said TESDA has partnered with the Madrasah school system for them to be able to integrate the skills training for the Muslim out-of-school youths.
“We are trying to do this through the Madrasah system because all the villages have Madrasah [schools], so we have to integrate the skills training into the madarasah so that we can penetrate them,” he said.
The madrasah education is a system of education that emphasizes Arabic literacy, Islamic values (universal moral values based on Islam), and the Islamic religion.
Mamondiong also said the agency has created a joint technical working group to see if all of the Madrasah schools have enough facilities to offer techical-vocational courses.
“We have to procure [equipments]for them because madrasah schools handled by the community members do not have enough school facilities, and they maintain the schools through their contributions. They do not receive any assistance from the government,” he added.
The state skills training agency has also partnered with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to empower indigenous peoples through technical education and skills development, Mamondiong said. The training program is geared toward transforming them into competitive and productive individuals, especially in their respective ancestral domains.
“We just signed a memorandum of agreement with the NCIP and we committed to provide 15,000 scholarship slots for indigenous people inside and outside of the Cordillera and Caraga regions,” Mamondiong said.
“If you look at the statistics, the unemployment rate in those regions is very high. They [indigenous people]are left out in the development plans of our country for so many decades similarly with the Muslims in the South,” the TESDA chief added. NEIL A. ALCOBER