In June 2005, the College of the Holy Spirit (CHS) of Manila will open its doors to a unique group of students in their freshman high school year.
Sixty-nine bright, young students from poor families, chosen for their potential for academic success and given a special public school learning environment, will soon be among the 200 or so elementary school graduates who will get their secondary education at CHS.
These children were until recently students of the Center of Excellence of Public Elementary Education, or Centex, a groundbreaking program of the Ayala Foundation in cooperation with several private companies and the Department of Education (DepEd). It is a program that stemmed from a desire to provide children from disadvantaged families with quality education and help change the course of their lives and that of their community.
Seven years since the first school was created in Tondo, Manila, Centex has produced its first batch of graduates of 71 confident, talented achievers who not only surpass their counterparts in government-administered tests among public and private schools but also exhibit a consciousness that can only come from their direct experience of poverty.
These results drew the College of the Holy Spirit to forge a partnership with Ayala Foundation that would continue to provide Centex students with a similar kind of learning environment, one that challenges their intellect and fosters their sense of social duty. It was providential, too, that the 92-year old Catholic college began to offer high school education again beginning 2004.
The CHSM-Centex High School is a coeducational institution that vows to provide good, values-based education. For the coming academic year, CHSM-Centex is expeting around 200 students from Centex and from other “feeder schools” and neighboring elementary schools. And like its parent institution, the high school gives equal importance to developing core values as well as academic excellence.
CHS Manila president Sr. Eufracia Marcojos explained, “Our vibrant community celebrates diversity, nurtures spirituality, encourages experessions of divergent thinking, and prepares the next generation for leadership and service towards the promotion of justice.”
This development harks back to the beginnings of the College of the Holy Spirit, which in 1913 was established by missionary sisters as a primary school and later developed into a college school for women. Sr. Marcojos said that the creation of the secondary school last year was an expression of their belief that basic education plays a critical role in the integral formation of our youth.
At Centex, children are also given a holistic learning enviroment. They are taught under a special curriculum that incorporates the latest educational trends and research and is crafted by DepEd representatives and a team of volunteer educators from local schools as well as the United States.
The two Centex schools in Tondo, Manila and Bauan, Batangas are equipped with various facilities that the children are free to use. Textbooks, uniforms, and transportation subsidies are provided. The young scholars are served lunch every day to supplement their nutritional needs. In addition, parents are offered parenting workshops and livelihood training, extending the benefits of the program to immediate families and the community at large.
“Centex improves the physical, financial, and human resources of an ordinary public elementary school” said Ayala Foundation president Victoria P. Garchitorena. “In so doing, we ultimately give children of poor families quality education otherwise denied this sector of Philippine society.”
Though within the purview of the Department of Education and the local government, Centex is able to provide these benefits through endowment funds created by private companies and managed by Ayala Foundation. Ayala Land funded the first school in Tondo, and Globe Telecom and Pure Foods Corporation helped create the Centex school in Batangas. Respected artists such as Bencab, Romulo Galicano, Anita Magsaysay-Ho, and Malang have also supported the schools by allowing their artworks to be featured in fundraising merchandise.
Over the years this unique program has shown encouraging results. Centex consistently tops the DepEd’s achievement tests given to all public schools in Manila. Students also lead competitions in math, literacy, and the arts among public and private schools and are constantly exceeding expectations of their parents, teachers, and those who witness the dramatic change in their lives. Two of the recent graduates will soon be studying in the country’s leading science high schools.
The Missionary Congregation of the Servants of the Holy Spirit that manages the College of the Holy Spirit is eager to welcome the 69 Centex students into their community.
Said Sr. Eufracia: “We will provide these students quality education that addresses the strengthening of both Gospel and Filipino values. We want to help create among our youth, servant leaders, discerning persons equipped with excellent skills, who are nurturers of their environment and proud to be Filipino.”
With shared goals for the younger generation, the College of the Holy Spirit and the Ayala Foundation through Centex, believe that their partnership can help make a just, peaceful, and empowered society in the years to come.