OSSFFI to Tie Up with APEC Schools

The One Small Step Forward Foundation Inc. is getting ready to formalize an arrangement to pilot its iSipnayan math program in two of the Affordable Private Education Center Inc., or APEC, schools. APEC, a joint venture between Ayala Corp. and the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pearson, the international learning company, aims to build a network of affordable private high schools, first in the Metro Manila area, and eventually throughout the country.

Having only opened its doors last year, by the beginning of 2015, APEC schools already number 12. Five are in Quezon City – Sto. Domingo, V. Luna, Doña Juana, Holy Spirit and North Fairview – three in Manila – Tondo, Emilio Aguinaldo College, and Sampaloc – two in Pasig – C. Raymundo and Mercedes – and one each in Caloocan (Grace Park West) and Marikina (Concepcion Uno). Another 12 are slated for opening soon, penetrating more Metro cities and municipalities – Muntinglupa, Parañaque, Pasay, Pateros, Cainta, Taytay, Dasmariñas, and Bacoor, plus additional schools in Manila and Marikina. Discussions between APEC leaders and OSSFFI officers had been ongoing since early 2014. President Bing del Rosario, director Victor Claravall, and project head Rachel Declaro – also took the opportunity to do observation visits to three of the 12 existing schools – V. Luna last November 20, Sto. Domingo-Araneta Avenue last November 26, V. Luna again last February 10, and Doña Juana on February 12.

The iSipnayan pilot will involve the V. Luna and Doña Juana schools, both in Quezon City, and is tentatively slated to kick off on the first week of April, 2015. If the experiment in successful, i.e., the math proficiency gap (expected Grade 7 proficiency vs. actual capability levels) of incoming elementary school graduates is narrowed considerably within a year or two, then APEC could decide to roll out the iSipnayan program through all the APEC schools for incoming Grade 7 students.

The Ayala conglomerate has seen how the Philippine education system is facing growing challenges, especially in the light of a fast growing population. They saw DepEd’s K-12 program as a bold step to improve education and how this government program would benefit from private sector help. The phenomenon of private sector providing low cost quality private education for talented children from economically deprived families is already a growing phenomenon across the developing world such as the Indian subcontinent, Latin America, and Africa. The aim of APEC is to enable high school students to go straight to professional employment upon graduation or to be able to pursue higher studies.

And how affordable is “affordable”? APEC charges less than P25,000 annually and that already includes textbooks and a common curriculum with centrally-prepared PPT slides, exercises, quizzes, and activities. Early availers get additional discounts and really financially-constrained students could apply for subsidies.

Fernando Zobel de Ayala, Ayala Corp.’s president and COO, summed up Ayala’s interest in the venture: “The global demand for Filipino talent is proof that one of the Philippines’ greatest resources is its people. Ayala believes that investment in education is key to securing national competitiveness, and every Filipino’s future. Our vision is to provide affordable, world-quality education that can allow every student to achieve his or her full potential.”