Various programs mark this year’s graduation celebrations


THE graduation season in the Philippines has begun, giving students an opportunity to celebrate what they have accomplished during school days. While most Filipino families rejoice such milestones in their children’s educational journey as early as pre-school or elementary, the most anticipated occasion is the college graduation. This allows students to finally venture out into the real world, fueled by their ambition and zeal for high-impact professions. Shortly after this season, employers will be in search of graduates who possess right values, such as humility and confidence, and positive attitudes toward gaining valuable experience.

Most colleges and universities in the Philippines follow the traditional mortarboard, hood, and gown during graduation rites. In some schools, the color of the gown corresponds to the school color. As such, color blue represents the Colegio de San Juan de Letran and Ateneo de Manila University, green for Far Eastern University, and red for San Beda College.

In other schools, like the University of Santo Tomas, Spanish academic attires are worn such as the academic biretta and mozetta, owing to the school’s Spanish heritage. The academic colors used also depend on the faculty or college a student belongs to.

Another different graduation garb is the sablay worn by students of the University of the Philippines (UP). The UP sablay was inspired from the malong of Muslim Mindanao, thus giving female students a Filipiniana look. The sablay also features the indigenous baybayin characters for the initials “U” and “P” and during the commencement ceremonies, graduates wear it at their right shoulder. It is then moved to the left shoulder after the president of the university confers their degree. This procedure is similar to the moving of the tassel of the academic cap.

According to Forbes contributor Laura Youngkin, the last batch of millennials, one of the largest generations in history, will graduate from college this year. She said that in 2015, millennials had become the largest generational group in the workforce and many expect those numbers to rise in the coming years. In the same year, Filipino millennials aged 15 to 34 had comprised 53 percent of the country’s working-age population, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority or PSA. Today, millennials continue to take advantage of internet access and smartphone technology as they take on their journey to reach their full potentials.

Education reform
As a typical yearly scenario, millions of students are expected to graduate from high school this year, including the first batch of Senior High School (SHS), who underwent the K to 12 Basic Education Program, a major change in the Philippines educational system that was first implemented in 2011.

According to the Department of Education (DepEd), the program covers Kindergarten and 12 years of basic education. This includes six years of primary education, four years of Junior High School, and two years of SHS. The program was initially implemented to provide sufficient time for “mastery of concepts and skills, develop lifelong learners, and prepare graduates for tertiary education, middle-level skills development, employment, and entrepreneurship,” DepEd said. The department is also confident that the K-12 curriculum is sufficient to prepare the graduates for work.

“In terms of their competencies, they have been trained to be ready for work or higher education,” said DepEd Assistant Secretary Nepo Malaluan.

On the other hand, the Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) recently stated that several companies have expressed interest in accepting or hiring the first batch of SHS graduates. Despite this assurance, however, many of the graduating SHS students are worried about their competitors who have earned degrees in college.

In this light, PBed Executive Director Lovelaine Basillote said that there would be no discrimination between K-12 and college graduates.

“After going through the K-12 system, [and they achieved competency targets, they can apply for work in companies]” she said. Basillote noted that 93 percent of the skills necessary in the service sector are taught to K+12 students.

Meanwhile, 50 Metro Manila-based companies are set to conduct a job fair exclusively for K+12 graduates. These companies are operating in the service industry, such as business process outsourcing (BPO), hospitality tourism, and human resource management.

College subsidy
Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara recently called on the government to ensure that students from poor families will be given subsidy for their tuition and miscellaneous fees, as provided for under the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST).

RA 10931, with a funding of P40 billion, covers tuition, miscellaneous, and other school fees of students enrolled in 112 state universities and colleges (SUCs); 78 local universities and colleges (LUCs), and all technical-vocational education and training (TVET) programs are registered under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda).

The implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for UniFAST or Republic Act 10931 were released on March 16. Angara, author of the Free College law and the UniFAST law, said the Tertiary Education Subsidy includes an allowance for books, supplies, transportation, room and board, personal computer or laptop, and other education-related personal expenses of indigent students. He added that students included in the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Listahanan 2.0 will also be prioritized as beneficiaries of the subsidy, which will be managed by the UniFAST Board.


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