Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mindanao students ride the JEEP Project to better English—and the job market

MARAWI City—Six of Mindanao’s universities are partnering with USAID’s Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) Program to improve the employability of the next generation of Mindanao graduates by expanding and enhancing the English language training capabilities of these universities.

GEM’s Job Enabling English Proficiency (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.

The six universities which have jointly launched JEEP are: Mindanao State University-Marawi, Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (Iligan), Capitol University (Cagayan de Oro), Western Mindanao State University (Cagayan de Oro), Bukidnon State University (Malaybalay, Bukidnon), and Zamboanga State College of Marine Science and Technology (Zamboanga City).

The JEEP Project will ultimately be implemented in 20 or more colleges and universities in Mindanao through partnerships between these institutions and the GEM Program, under the oversight of the Mindanao Economic Development Council.

JEEP consists of a two-year group of courses offered to qualifying college students. The first course, known as “JEEP-Start,” is a one-year program offered as an elective to third year college students. It develops advanced General English skills through computer-assisted instruction supported by classroom extension.

After successfully completing the first course, the students, now in their fourth year, may enroll in “JEEP-Accelerate”, another one-year course, which is taught through a classroom-based speech lab and internet-based learning.

JEEP-Accelerate is intended to equip students with the specific English skills needed for jobs in such sectors as business process outsourcing, tourism, nursing, allied health services or the maritime industry.

It will prepare students to take international English tests as the gateway to overseas employment in these sectors.

Among the other GEM Program projects designed to prepare Mindanao’s future workforce for the global economy are its Computer Literacy and Internet Connection (CLIC) project, and its Education Awareness Support Effort (EASE).

The CLIC project has to date provided 4,750 internet-connected computers to 800 schools, and EASE has provided educational matching grants to help parent-teacher community associations establish mini-libraries, science laboratories or multimedia centers in 690 schools, in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao. (GEM)