11 June 2010

Freeport schools to get more subsidy from SBMA

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has increased its subsidy to schools operating in this free port under a program designed to continuously improve the skills of Subic’s growing workforce and enable them to meet future requirements of various industries here.

SBMA administrator Armand Arreza said the program, “Producing a More Globally-Competitive Workforce in the Subic Bay Freeport”, which was approved by the SBMA board in January, would raise SBMA’s grants to schools here by up to P30 million annually, from the current annual subsidy of P16.3 million through discounts on property leases.

Under the program, the SBMA will offer a 100 percent “no lease consideration” to, initially, six of the 11 schools operating inside the Subic Bay Freeport.

The supposed SBMA income from these leases will be translated to scholarship grants through the SBMA Scholarship Foundation, which will formulate the program’s guidelines and policies, Arreza explained.

Instead of going to SBMA coffers, the waived leases will instead go back to the schools, which are only required to maximize their commitment to improve their faculty and facilities in order to avail of the program.

“We shall only ask the schools to develop initiatives to use the additional income to continually improve their students’ academic excellence, and to support the SBMA in its socio-civic undertakings in the Subic Bay Freeport,” Arreza said.

“In the long run, we hope to see a constant increase in enrolment at all levels,” Arreza added. “We also want to see the enhancement and inclusion of courses and fields of studies that are required in this free port,” he said.

Arreza said a memorandum of agreement is being drafted to specify the commitments needed from both parties in order for the program to push through.

For this project, he added, the SBMA would be building on the gains achieved by the Subic Bay Workforce Development Foundation Inc. (SBWDFI), which was established by the SBMA to promote workforce development among public and private entities here.

“It’s hitting multiple birds with one stone — the academe gets its much-needed financial support; the various industries here are assured of a globally-competitive workforce; and the community reaps the resulting benefits,” Arreza further explained.

For starters, SBMA has offered the 100 percent “no lease consideration” to the following schools: Casa Kalayaan International School, FIRST School of SBFZ, Subic Montessori School, Lyceum Subic Bay, Comteq Computer and Business College, and Mondriaan Aura College.

The said schools are now being audited in accordance with the criteria for the SBMA program.

Beatrix Anagaran , head of the SBMA General Business and Investment Department, said the program to produce globally-competitive workforce sprung from the SBMA strategic planning session held last October, wherein Arreza took note of the “very sad statistics of Philippine education.”

Anagaran said that Arreza then directed her department to come up with a study on Subic’s educational institutions, all the while emphasizing the role SBMA has to play in the advancement of education within the Subic Bay area and the neighboring communities of Olongapo, Zambales and Bataan.

“This is a manifestation of the SBMA’s walking its talk,” she added. (SBMA Corporate Communications)