Accenture’s donation: A gift that keeps giving
Epi Fabonan III (The Philippine Star) - January 31, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Ronaldo Bago, school principal, warmly shook hands with corporate executives that paid a welcome visit last Jan. 20 to Biñan National High School-Annex.

Comprising 957 students and 34 teachers and situated in a depressed part of Biñan City, Laguna, the school had not been wanting in challenges – lack of ample school facilities, compounded by perennial flooding and dire poverty has made dropping out a more convenient decision for many of the students. In schoolyear 2014-2015 alone, the school had more than 180 dropouts out of its 1,000 enrolees.

Despite these issues, the school managed to rank no. 1 in the district in the annual National Achievement Test. It also bested other schools nationwide in the annual Mardi Gras presentation as part of Pasig City’s Pakalog Festival. In terms of IT and computer education, the school gained the honor of representing Biñan City in the Computer Hardware Servicing Exhibition.

Even the teachers are making waves. “One of our teachers, Freedom Carbonel, is currently vying for the chance of being trained by the prestigious SEAMEO-Innotech organization in Malaysia among seven candidates from the region,” Bago said.

A national predicament

Biñan National High School–Annex is an example of how a school can strive to provide the kind of education that molds the next generation of hardworking, skilled, ingenious and values-imbibed Filipinos despite a scarcity of facilities, technology and infrastructure.

The school is not alone.

Across the Philippines, many other public schools scale seemingly insurmountable technological deficiencies to produce graduates that can contribute to nation-building.

The Department of Education (DepEd) admits that it cannot address the schools’ lack of access to technology on its own.

“Over the past five years, the DepEd has increased its budget from 2010 to 2015. In 2016, we will be receiving the biggest chunk in the national budget, a total of about P430 million, and a significant portion of this is devoted to [procurement] of ICT equipment. But if you divide this budget to the 21 million students that we serve, you will see that this amount is not much,” says DepEd Undersecretary Mario Deriquito.

With its limited budget myriad unmet needs of the country’s education sector, the DepEd continues to look for partners who can put in time, skills and resources to help them address challenges in the delivery of quality education.

Partnership for education

Among the partnerships that DepEd has forged is with the Philippine Business for Social Progress, the largest business-led social development organization in the country that is committed to poverty reduction. PBSP currently has 273 large-, medium- and small-scale member companies that help uplift the lives of Filipinos through social development programs on health, education, the environment, livelihood, and enterprise.

One such PBSP member that is actively committed to social development is Accenture, a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. It currently employs 45,000 professionals in Metro Manila and Cebu, making it the largest and most mature IT company in the country, providing voice, non-voice, and management consulting services.

As part of its commitment to social progress, Accenture has launched its Computer Skills Training Program together with DepEd and PBSP. Under the program, the company will provide a total of 1,000 PCs to 30 public high schools nationwide.

Among the 30 beneficiaries of the program is Biñan National High School–Annex, which received 60 computers equipped with software that will develop and hone their students’ IT skills. Accenture country managing director Lito Tayag personally turned over the PCs to the school together with Undersecretary Deriquito, and PBSP Program Management Office for Education head Dr. Marylin Muncada.

A donation that pays forward

“The Computer Skills Training Program reflects our steadfast commitment to help improve the lives of fellow Filipinos, particularly today’s youth, by providing them direct access to an ICT-enabled learning environment,” Tayag said in his remarks.

Aside from the computer donations, Accenture employees will also volunteer to share their time and knowledge to teach and further update the existing computer skills of the students and teachers at the 30 public schools beneficiaries, Tayag adds.

The program is aligned with Accenture’s Skills to Succeed corporate citizenship initiative, which will equip more than three million people around the world with the right skills to secure a good job or build a business.

“With this program, we hope to be able to leverage our strength and core competence in order to help train new talent. We believe that computer literacy is very important for today’s workforce, both in terms of the ability to get trained and in having a fruitful career,” Tayag adds.

Importantly, Accenture’s donation is one that keeps on giving. Not only will it help current students and teachers of Biñan National High School–Annex become computer-literate, the skills they acquire can be passed on to the next batch of students and teachers and used to scale the career ladder or engage in a profitable enterprise of their own.

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