A technical-vocational (tech-voc) school in Pandacan, Manila is urging women to take the part towards tech-voc careers.
Peter Marco Magsalin, school administrator of Fr. Pierre Institute (FPTI)-ERDA Tech said it was their advocacy to break stereotypes and highlight success stories of women who made it well with the tech-voc skills.
The school, initially called Educational Research and Development Assistance or ERDA Foundation founded by Fr. Pierre Tritz, SJ in 1994, provides free quality education — through a scholarship — to marginalized but deserving members of the community.
Currently, it is offering electromechanical technology, a short course program in line with the shift in demands of industries and labor market.
Under the program, students take on a six-week in-campus learning program then undergo an intensive four-month in-plant training (IPT) with the school’s industry partners.
That work experience program helps students to adapt to their future work environment — making them better prepared for employment immediately after graduation while cultivating relationships with prospective employers.
Magsalin said since the start, the school has welcomed female students and faculty to recognize their strengths and important contributions to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
They had consistently 6 females out of 10, he added. But this year, they only have around 15 females out of 60 students enrolled in the program.
“So ‘yung bias natin (So our bias here) especially for the coming years, is really to get more females to try the program,” Magsalin said.
“Hinahanap talaga namin sila kasi maganda silang i-highlight yung equal opportunities na pwede ibigay sa kanila kasi when you talk about tech-voc, the perception is always its a man’s job especially if you talk about construction work (We are looking for them because it is good to highlight the equal opportunities that can be given to them because when we talk out tech-voc, the perception is always its a man’s job),” he added.
‘Just give it a try’
In an interview, students Princess Jane del Rosario, 19, and Leira Gamo, 20, shared that both of them simply tried to get into FPTI-ERDA, and started to love their respective works.
Before going to FPTI-ERDA, del Rosario was a first year college student in a business school but all business-related courses were full by the time she was enrolling.
“Pumasok lang po ako [sa FPTI-ERDA] kasi instead na magstay lang po ako sa bahay [bakit] di ko na lang pasukan,” (I just enrolled because I don’t want to stay at home and do nothing), del Rosario said.
She said she still plans to go to college after she finishes her in-plant training in four months.
“Gaya po nung sinasabi ng iba, kung ano man po ang kaya ng mga lalaki, kaya na rin ng babae kasi nasa kakayanan naman po ng tao ‘yun (Just like what others say, women can do what men can do because its based on the skills),” she said.
Meanwhile, Gamo was an out-of-school youth who just happen to be working in the canteen of FPTI-ERDA. She said that her aunt urged her to enroll in the program.
“’Yung sa canteen po kasi dito, tumutulong po ako, [nandito] po tita ko. Sabi niya, i-try ko pong pumasok. Tapos habang tumatagal, nagugustuhan ko na po (I help out in the canteen, because my aunt works here. She told me I should try to study, then I went on, I started enjoying it),” Gamo said. She will graduate this December.
She said she would apply for a job after she graduated. Asked for challenges she faces, she said nothing.
“Parang wala po kasi nae-enjoy ko naman po yung ginagawa ko. Parang nae-enjoy ko po lalo na po yung babae ako pero nakakaya ko pong sabayan ang mga lalaking kaklase ko. Parang nakakapround po (Nothing because I enjoy what I am doing. I fee proud because I am a woman and I can do what men can do.),” Gamo said.
Magsalin also hopes that they can expand their recruitment and reach even those who are in provinces.
“Our goal is to get more students, provide more opportunities to those who are in need,” said Magsalin.
“In the long term, we would want to offer additional programs that would really encourage more female students enroll like for example sa food and beverages, housekeeping, home economics, and bookkeeping,” he added.
He also said that talking to different public schools for recruitment is not enough to boost enrollment. They are now reached the level of the barangay (villages) to address this.
“Most of the time, we use social media as a platform but we’ve realized that would not be enough so what we are doing now is [reach out] barangay y barangay, parish to parish, to really reach the community,” Magsalin said.