MARAWI CITY (July 1) — Mindanao students will get a boost in their chances at landing better, market-driven jobs with a new project that seeks to enhance students’ English proficiency skills and language training capabilities of Mindanao universities.
Launched by the USAID’s Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) in six Mindanao universities, the Job Enabling English Proficiency or JEEP project is designed to turn out graduates with the English language skills needed for productive employment in careers requiring reasonable proficiency in the language, a statement from the agency said.
The six universities which have partnered with USAID-GEM and jointly launched the JEEP include the Mindanao State University (MSU)-Marawi, MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology, Capitol University and Western Mindanao State University in Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon State University in Malaybalay, and Zamboanga State College of Marine Science and Technology in Zamboanga City.
The JEEP Project will be implemented in 20 or more colleges and universities in Mindanao through partnerships between the said schools and the GEM Program, which is part of the five-year US$190-million Mindanao Peace and Development (MPAD) program being implemented under the oversight of the Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo).
“The JEEP project is a cushion to the ramifications of the current economic crisis,” said Usec. Virgilio Leyretana, Sr , chairman of MEDCo.
He said that JEEP is like “a window to the future” since English is the language of diplomacy and business. “We are reiterating our unequivocal support to JEEP knowing that this will contribute to the preparation of those who will come after us,” he said.
The JEEP project consists of a two-year group of courses offered to qualifying college students.
“In the first 6 schools, around 2,000 students in the first year are expected to enroll, which would grow up to 4,000 in the second year. When JEEP reaches 20 schools, number of students would grow to around 14,000 with about 7,000 completing each year,” said Charlie Feibel, GEM Programme Chief of Party, in a presentation of JEEP to more than a hundred college students.
The first course, known as “JEEP-Start,” is a one-year program offered as an elective to third year college students and will develop advanced General English skills through computer-assisted instruction supported by classroom extension.
The students who complete the first course may enroll in “JEEP-Accelerate”, another one-year course taught through a classroom based-speech lab and internet-based learning.
High-quality, standards-based English skills are needed for jobs in international nursing and allied health services, maritime sectors, tourism, including the business process outsourcing (BPO) wherein over 100,000 jobs are created each year.
The JEEP project will also partner with the business sector to help identify specific skills and degrees of proficiency or target competencies required by the industry, as well as to help identify appropriate relevant practice materials to be used to train potential employees.
“Business collaboration will ensure that JEEP remains consistently focused on the needs of employers,” said Feibel.
The project will also prepare students to take international English tests as the gateway to overseas employment in the focus sectors.
“The JEEP project is an enormously powerful instrument for the Mindanao state universities and colleges in ensuring the production of globally competitive graduates and professionals,” said Macapado Muslim, MSU-Marawi President.
Following the JEEP project launching, USAID-GEM together with the Children International Foundation (CIF) distributed around 36,000 books, under GEM’s Education Awareness Support Effort (EASE).
The books, which are mostly American text books in Science, Mathematics and English, will be distributed to 50 EASE-supported school libraries, which will supplement around 40,000 books previously provided by the CIF.