The great equalizer (Part 3) » Manila Bulletin News

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Jejomar C. Binay
Former Vice President

By Jejomar C. Binay

Former Vice President

 

I inherited the Makati Polytechnic Community College from the previous city administration, where, as the joke went on then, the families in the city’s rich enclaves sent the children of their household help. From a vocational training institution, we expanded the course offerings and renamed it Makati College in 1987. With this we began the transformation of the city’s higher education program.

By 1990, Makati College had been integrated with the former Fort Andres Bonifacio College, paving the way for the elevation of the institution to a university. The following year, by virtue of Municipal Ordinance No. 433, we converted Makati College into Pamantasan ng Makati and operated as a university by December, 1991.

In 2000, I appointed Prof. Tomas Lopez from the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) to be university president. Under his term, PnM was transformed into the University of Makati (UMak). Today, UMak has 14 degree and non-degree programs in business, education, allied health services, governance and public policy, to name a few, catering to over 16,000 students. Like all public school students in Makati, UMak students receive free school supplies, workbooks, and uniforms. They only pay a token fee of P1,000 per semester. For this year, the city leadership has alloted P1.2 billion for the university.

As we worked together on innovating our higher education program in the early 1990s, it was imperative that we clearly articulate our fundamental education philosophy for UMak. Aligned with my vision to create social programs to uplift the conditions of the citizens of Makati, it was apt that UMak’s philosophy would center on the principle that education must lead to employment.

A brief encounter with a UMak graduate prompted me to bring the university’s philosophy to a new direction. I was eating at a fast-food restaurant when one of the service crew approached me and introduced himself as a UMak graduate. During our brief chat I learned that he was a graduate of one of our social sciences course. He could not find a job after graduation, leaving him no option but to work in a fast-food restaurant. Now that is still honest, decent work. Yet I could not help thinking that had he chosen a career in the restaurant and fast food industry, UMak should have given him the skills needed to succeed in this industry.

Education-for-employment would require a strong bond with the private sector of Makati. We met with various companies in Makati and we asked them to help us develop the curriculum and train the faculty. We also created internship and employment opportunities for our students. This resulted in the Dualized University Education System or DUES – a program that was designed to deliver education where students develop skills and knowledge needed by industries. With this system, we can ensure the employability of our graduates.

A parallel initiative was the effort to redesign our university programs toward specialized education. An example of this was how we redesigned an existing Bachelor of Arts in Management degree program and broke it down into two specialized management programs – Bachelor of Arts in Retail Management and Bachelor of Arts in Building Property Management. At that time, retail chain businesses were in boom, and as the country’s financial and business district, Makati had the highest density of buildings and high-rise structures. The employment demand for these growing industries served as our impetus to develop these specialized management courses.

Our partnership with the private sector did not stop with the DUES Program. In 2003, in response to the then booming demand for Filipino nurses, UMak entered into a joint venture agreement with STI Educational Services Group to create the Philippine Health Educators, Inc. (PHEI). This led to the establishment of our College of Nursing (CON). STI was an attractive partner. It was operating two nursing placement companies to bring Filipino nurses to the United States.

With the drop in enrollment in nursing courses, the college was expanded to become the College of Allied Health Studies (COAHS). The college currently offers degree programs in nursing, pharmacy, and radiologic technology – programs which have consistently produced board topnotchers and have consistently performed higher than the average national passing rates for licensure exams.

These partnerships were pioneering efforts at Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) decades before the concept was adopted on the national level. UMak’s PPP programs brought in millions of pesos in revenue for the city and, more importantly, hundreds of scholarships for Makati residents.

Another PPP program of UMak is the College of Maritime Leadership Innovation which offers Marine Transportation and Marine Engineering degrees to deserving scholars nationwide. In partnership with Southfield Agencies Inc., CMLI provides full scholarship and guaranteed employment for graduates as junior officers and captains or chief engineers in partner shipping companies. It is also one of the first maritime programs in the country that offers actual shipboard experience to its students. Apart from scholarships for both Makati and non-Makati residents, the program has resulted in the development of a state-of-the-art maritime education facility through the investment of around P50 million in equipment and facilities development of UMak’s private partner.

It has always been my vision and commitment to provide opportunities for young citizens of Makati – our Makatizens – to partake in the economic progress of the city. We want to enable them to realize their individual dreams through competitive and responsive educational programs.

And I still have UMak graduates approaching me not only in restaurants, but in corporate offices and business establishments, not to say that they were there because they had no work options, but how their university education had prepared them for their chosen professions.

Next week, I will discuss our innovations in education further when I talk about our pioneering program on K to 12, UMak’s School of Tomorrow, and the newly-established School of Law.

 

jcbinay11@gmail.com

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