MANILA, June 23 (PNA) — President Benigno S. Aquino III on Tuesday congratulated the 2,022 graduates of the Special Training for Employment Program (STEP) of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), expressing his admiration for their determination to better their lives.
During the mass graduation, held at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City, the President presented the STEP graduates their certificates, and their toolkits, such as electric ovens for baking; portable welding machines for shield metal arc welding; and sewing machines for dressmaking.
“Bahagi lamang po ang programang ito ng TESDA sa malawakan nating istratehiya para bigyang kakayahan ang mga kababayan natin na maging katuwang sa pag-unlad,” President Aquino said in his speech, noting that since 2010, millions of Filipinos have benefited from TESDA’s various technical and vocational training programs.
“Sa limang taon nating pagtahak sa daang matuwid, talaga naman pong malayo na ang ating narating. Patunay po ang TESDA kung paano natin pinapatibay ang ating mga institusyon upang hindi na maging kasangkapan ng mga tiwali para sa pansariling interes,” he said.
He recalled that under the past administration, TESDA distributed scholarship vouchers that were not backed up by funds.
“Kaya nung natapos po sila, ang iniwan po kay TESDA Secretary Joel Villanueva ay 2.4 bilyong pisong utang ng ahensiya at siyempre, sa dulo po, taumbayan na rin ang magbabayad nitong inutang na wala naman palang kapahintulutang utangin. Kaya nga po pinapanagot na natin ang dating pinuno ng TESDA, sampu ng kanyang mga kasamahan. Ngayon po ay humaharap sila sa kasong katiwalian na isinampa ng Ombudsman,” he said.
Noting that the government spends an average of Php 7,155 for every TESDA scholar, President Aquino encouraged the graduates to do their share to help future trainees by paying their taxes.
“Gagastos ang sambayanan, dinaan sa gobyerno, pagkagastos po maibabalik naman nang nakinabang. Ang pagbalik na iyon ay sa pamamagitan ng buwis, nakakatulong sa mas marami pang taong magkaroon ng parehong pagkakataon,” he said.
Established in August 1994, TESDA aims to encourage the full participation of, and to mobilize the industry, labor, local government units and technical-vocational institutions in the skills development of the country’s human resources.
It offers courses on preventive maintenance on the mechanical and electrical system of motorcycles; maintenance and repair of cellular phones; maintenance and repair of electronically controlled domestic appliances; masonry; installation of wiring devices/lighting systems; maintenance and repair of audio/video products; carpentry; including food processing and meal preparation, among others.
Also present during the event were TESDA Director General Joel Villanueva, Pasay City Congresswoman Imelda Calixto-Rubiano, Pasay City Mayor Antonino Calixto, and officer-in-charge of the Cuneta Astrodome, Aurelio Vendivel. (PNA)