Ilonggos fulfill poor students’ dreams to finish college

* More students in need of sponsors

For an 18-year-old student like Kristine Kate Villanueva who comes from a poor family, having an education and finishing a college degree is a luxury that she can’t afford. But because another individual chose to “adopt” her, this dream is now a reality.
Villanueva is the youngest child in a brood of six. Their father left, so it was their mother who is taking care of their needs from the income she derives from cooking and selling “puto” and “bitso-bitso”.
She helps her mother with their small business during her free time, including evenings.
While making “puto” and “bitso-bitso”, she also opens her notes so that she can study at the same time.
“During class, I am always tired because I help my mother,” Villanueva said.
The family’s sleeping arrangement at their “little home” in the middle of the public market adds to the challenge.
The family members sleep in shifts because their living space cannot accommodate them sleeping all at once.
Despite her difficulties, she said,  “I never thought of ignoring my schooling. I don’t allow my grades to fall. I never thought of stopping school either.”
This determination is shown in her average grade of 88 at the Iloilo City Community College where she is a sophomore taking up BS in Travel Management.
Villanueva is one of the students under the Adopt- a-student scholarship program of ICCC.
“I have so many dreams that I want realized in my life. I’m hoping for an opportunity to finish my studies,” she wrote in her autobiography, a requirement for scholars.
Wish granted, a person from the business sector is now paying for her tuition fee and this will continue until she graduates.
“Currently, there are 32 private sponsors for 77 students starting on the first semester of 2013. There are more sponsors coming,” said Maria Mathilde Octavio, administrator of ICCC.
“They signed a memorandum of understanding which says this will continue until the students graduate. The sponsors pay P3,500 per student for every semester,” she said.
The selection of the scholars is based on the grades, the interview, the desire as shown in their autobiography, and the parents’ determination.
“We review the autobiography and prioritize those who really need the scholarship. From the orientation, we also see if the parents are determined. A counselor also visits their house. Sometimes, the sponsors choose their scholars,” Octavio added.
“We provide the sponsors with folders containing the official receipts of the tuition payments, the students’ grades and other records. Some sponsors are also communicating with their scholars. There is one who taught his five scholars about business plans and more and said that he will hire them after they graduate,” she said.
Octavio said that those who are interested to sponsor students can write to: Maria Mathilde Octavio, Supervising Administrative Officer, Iloilo City Community College , Molo, Iloilo City or email to iloilocitycommunitycollege2012@gmail.com.

THE NEED FOR SCHOLARSHIPS
Apart from Adopt-a-scholar, the ICCC has two others – academic scholarship and Iloilo Student Assistance Program (ISAP).
The academic scholarship is regulated by City Ordinance 2013-319 which provides that the scholars meet the average grade of at least 85 percent. Currently, the ICCC has 20 academic scholars.
Meanwhile, under the ISAP, some students render 270 hours of work at the college every semester during their free time.
Currently, there are 20 ISAP scholars.
Octavio said the need for adopted scholars was seen after they noted a huge number of drop-outs among students since the school started in June 2012.
“We started with 225 students. But during the second semester, there were 200 left. Upon reaching second year, there were 187 of the first batch left.
The number of students was reduced due to academic and financial reasons.
We were alarmed to lose 38 students, five due to academics and 33 due to financial reasons. The students were hard-up because they have a big family to consider, some walk from the house to school and some don’t even have money for school lunch. Here, you will see firsthand how poor they are,” she said.
“So, what will happen if we don’t help them or give them opportunities? They will continue the poor cycle,” she said.
Octavio shared that 16 groups from the Iloilo transport sector also pledged to sponsor 50 students through free rides from home to school and vice versa from Monday to Friday provided they wear their college IDs.
“We are also parents, so we understand the need. What we need the students to do is to take care of their family and help others, too,” one transport leader said, according to Octavio.

COURSES AND TRAINING OFFERED
ICCC is open to students who graduated from public high school, whose parents are voters of Iloilo City and who have an income of not more than P120,000 a year.
ICCC offers BS in Travel Management and BS in Office Administration.
Octavio said that instead of increasing their number of courses, they will concentrate and improve on these two.
“Also, we worked out that there are Tesda courses related to their course. By the second year, they would have acquired NC2 competence so that in case they don’t finish, they can already work,” Octavio said.
Under BS in Travel Management, there is an NC2 competence in Tour Guiding by second year and another NC2 in Travel Services by fourth year.
Under BS in Office Administration, there is an NC2 in Contact Center by second year so they can work in call centers while there is an NC2 in Customer Service by fourth year.
She said that during the first year and on summer, the students undergo on-the-job training related to their course.
“We also plan to tie-up with companies to pay them an allowance of P250 a day because these students are poor,” she said.
“They are also tapped as tour guides. PESO (Public Employment Services Office) also provides them with summer jobs. They also provide augmentation in City Hall,” she added.

SELF-RELIANT
Octavio shared that ICCC students are taught to be self-reliant.
Volunteer speakers are invited to teach tour guiding, beauty care, manicure and pedicure, sales and handicrafts, among others.
One example is: their Bilidhon Dance Troup composed of 24 student-dancers raised funds for their school lockers through a Velada.
“They raised P18,000 and the construction of the lockers will start soon. Then, they will rent these out to raise more funds,” Octavio said.

STRUGGLES
Octavio said that running the school “is a struggle, but we take things one step at a time. We have good teachers with masters degrees.”
“We derive a sense of fulfilment from the appreciation shown by students and parents. We feel sad whenever someone stop schooling. So, we are happy that the parents are supportive of their kids. We have to help each other.”

Asked what she hopes for the students, Octavio said, “We hope they become good citizens and also help others the same way they were also helped.”*

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