288 STEP Scholars in AgNor receive toolkits from TESDA

Buenavista, Agusan del Norte- The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority in Agusan del Norte (TESDA-ADN), in partnership with the Provincial Government of Agusan del Norte and the 23rd Infantry (Masigasig) Battalion (23IB) handed over toolkits to two hundred eighty-eight (288) scholars who completed their series of training under the Special Training and Employment Program (STEP).

The turnover of the toolkits was conducted on March 20, 2021, at the Northern Mindanao School of Fisheries in Barangay Matabao, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte.

The two hundred eighty-eight (288) STEP scholars completed their onsite skills training conducted by TESDA-ADN, Provincial Government of Agusan del Norte and 23IB in Geographically-Isolated and Disadvantage Areas (GIDAs) in the towns of Buenavista, Nasipit and Carmen from September 2020 to January 2021.

The series of onsite activities in GIDAs include training on Shielded Metal Art Welding (SMAW), Carpentry, Plaster Concrete/Masonry Surface, Bread and Pastry Production, Hilot Wellness Massage and Process Food by Sugar Concentration.

The Provincial Government of Agusan del Norte, the office of Rep. Maria Angelica Amante-Matba, and the Local Government Units (LGUs) also provided support to the onsite training.

The activities were part of the implementation of Executive Order No. 70 (EO 70) issued by Pres. Rodrigo R. Duterte. TESDA heads the Poverty Reduction Empowerment Livelihood Cluster (PRELC) under the EO 70 that aims to end the local communist armed conflicts. The series of training was aimed to develop self-reliant, resilient, and sustainable communities through harmonized and culturally responsive development programs in support of the implementation of EO 70.

Of the two hundred eighty-eight (288) beneficiaries, five (5) are former combatants of the terrorist New People’s Army (NPA), twenty-five (25) are former underground mass supporters of the rebels, while the rest are dependents of FRs and mass supporters, and students.

Alias Roland was among the FRs who completed the TESDA skills training on welding and carpentry. He also received his toolkits last Saturday. Roland is thankful for the intervention of the government that will help him reshape his life by the time he goes back to his family and community.

“Dako kayo ang amo pasaslamat kay sa kani adto nga panahona wala namo gi damha nga ni abot sa among kinabuhi ang ingon ani nga programa sa atong gobyerno, tungod sa mga buotan nga namuno sa atong gobyerno, Nakita namo nga sensero ang pagtabang sa gobyerno sa mga katawhan hilabi na sa mga nag puyo sa mga lagyong lugar. Mao kung mahimo dili ta magpasagad, kita nga lumolopiyo sa sitio bulak sa Barangay Lower Olave, ang atong mga pangandoy atong makab-ot pina agi sa pagtinabangay ug pagtinabangay,” Roland said.

He also urged the other STEPS scholars to fully utilize the knowledge, skill and learnings they received from the TESDA.

“Ang kahibalo nga gihatag ka namo sa TESDA dako ni siyag tabang para sa ato nga nag puyo sa mga lagyo nga mga lugar. Dili nato sayangon kining kahibalo nga atong nadawat gikan sa atong mga trainor nga nag sakripisyo nga muadto sa atong lugar para matudluan kita ug madungan ang atong kahibalo,” Roland said.

TESDA Regional Director Tarhata S. Mapandi who was also present during the activity expressed gratitude to the STEP students for their sacrifices and willingness to learn.

“Rest assured that TESDA will double its efforts to deliver more sustainable livelihood skills training for the communities in geographically-isolated and disadvantaged areas. As the lead agency of PRLEC we will continue the conduct of livelihood and livestock skills training to develop self-reliant, resilient productive, and sustainable communities through harmonized and culturally responsive government development programs,” Mapandi said.

Governor Dale Corvera also lauded the efforts of TESDA and 23IB for the success of the activity. He also recognized the dedication of the FRs to learn and their resolve to renew their lives.

“Our government is seriously providing support to our people who can earn a living. These sets of training have provided you not just skills but also a special learning program through STEP. Skills training is the primary step, and the second step is to provide toolkits because what you have learned can be useless if you do not have the tools to use in your work, but the final step we want to see is that you are successful in your work. Find and make a living using what you have learned using these toolkits. I am so thankful to our congresswoman and to TESDA for making this training possible to help our brothers who live in the mountains who are not able to access government services. That is why you must also show the government your support by living peacefully away from trouble because our country cannot prosper without peace,” Corvera said.

Rep. Amante-Matba also cited the convergence of efforts and resources of all government agencies under the EO 70 that brought huge impacts to the lives of the FRs and other sectors in the GIDA areas of Agusan del Norte.

“The government is always ready and exerting efforts to provide necessities to uplift the community lifestyle. The government will initiate a livelihood skill training program to help the people by teaching them to become productive resilient members of their communities to sustain the needs of their families. Your government focuses on addressing the root cause of insurgency which is poverty, but it is so hard to address it without your cooperation and willingness to help the government,” Amante-Matba said.

For his part. Lt. Col. Julius Cesar C. Paulo, the commander of 23IB acknowledged the untiring efforts of TESDA-ADN in helping the residents in the GIDAs of Agusan del Norte.

“TESDA is the leading partner of the unit to develop the knowledge and skills of the community workforce with world-class competence and positive work values,” Paulo said.

He added that the efforts of the soldiers through the support of government and non-government agencies also helped the constituent in the fur-flung communities sustain their livelihoods.

He also asked the 288 toolkits recipients to continue to support the government and its programs and services for the people.

“I urge you to support all government programs, projects and services in your communities. Your communities. Let us work together to win the war against insurgency because the absence of cooperation and unity among us has worsened the problem of insurgency,” Paulo said.

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