News Release

Ayala Foundation Launches Bridge Project to Cisco Networking Academy Program for Out-of-School Youth

MANILA, Philippines -- 23 August 2001 -- Ayala Foundation,
Aug 23, 2001

MANILA, Philippines -- 23 August 2001 -- Ayala Foundation, one of the Philippines' highly involved civic organizations, announced today the launch of the Bridge Training Project for the Cisco Networking Academy Program.

The Bridge project will determine out-of-school youths' knowledge and skill levels and provide them with training that will bridge the education gap before they are introduced to the Cisco Networking Academy curriculum. The Bridge training will be integrated into the full networking academy curriculum once pilot testing is completed in three initial project sites – namely the Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise in Cebu City; the Meralco Foundation in the National Capital Region; and Mary Help of Christian School in Pampanga.

The Cisco Networking Academy Program is a not-for-profit IT education program developed by Cisco Systems, the worldwide leader in networking for the Internet. Attracting more than 160,000 students from 131 countries, the Cisco Networking Academy program is currently available at over 8,000 educational institutions worldwide. The program teaches the fundamentals of designing, building and maintaining computer networks.

The Ayala Bridge project, earmarked at 6.6 million pesos (US$130,000), began in January 2001 and is targeted for completion by December 2002.

"The Ayala Foundation has always taken pride in being a leader in providing the youth with excellent opportunities to enhance their future. In this light, we are proud to be partnering with the Cisco Networking Academy program because we know that it has the technological and curricular expertise to support the project's goals," said Aurora Tolentino, Executive Director of Ayala Foundation.

Considered as one of the major social service programs in the country, the Bridge initiative is aimed at providing the out-of-school youth with the necessary values and proficiency to prepare them for the Cisco Networking Academy Program.

"We have opted to pilot the Bridge project with the Cisco Networking Academy program as the program equips the students with the necessary skills sets for them to be immediately employable and competitive," added Tolentino.

"We feel privileged that the Cisco Networking Academy Program has been chosen as the pilot site for the Bridge Project. There is so much that needs to be done to help alleviate the lives of the disenfranchised, and we are humbled by the opportunity to contribute to Ayala's efforts. This also strengthens our belief that networking and the Internet will help narrow the digital and income divide in the country," said Noel Rivera, country manager of Cisco Systems Philippines.

Ayala Foundation will act as the overall project facilitator and coordinator, and will be directly in charge of monitoring activities. The Children and Youth Foundation of the Philippines (CYFP) meanwhile, will act as the program operation support center and has the authority to sign for the consortium on matters that will facilitate the implementation of the Bridge Training Program. The CYFP, through its Philippine Out-of-School Children and Youth Development Program, provided a grant for this project.

"Most of the Philippines' out-of-school youth are high school undergraduates. The vast majority of them are denied further basic education because of poverty," said Felicitas Rixhon, Executive Director of the CYFP. "Faced with limited knowledge and non-competitive skills, most out-of-school youths end up with at best low-paying jobs."

"In this context, a bridge training project provides a step toward relevant training programs such as the Cisco Networking Academy. It aims to bridge the knowledge and skills gap by elevating the out-of-school youths' educational level," said Rixhon.

CYFP has existing partnerships with local and international government, academic, church-based, and community-based institutions that operate in urban and rural areas. Its primary thrust is to develop programs that increase the economic potentials of children and youth; prevent child abuse; and promote juvenile justice, alternative education and youth development.

The Bridge Training Program will initially be launched as a one-month course for youths aged 16 to 24 years, who have completed at least 2nd year high school and have been out of school for not more than three years. The applicants will be screened and selected based on their attributes and skills, without any need for a written exam.

Once the recruits have been chosen, they will undergo the month-long introductory Bridge Training Program, which consists of four subjects – English; Computer Skills; Mathematics; and Soft Skills – designed to prepare the recruits for the Cisco Networking Academy program.

The Bridge Training Program will be pilot-tested by the three partner-institutions to be implemented in the first of the four semesters of the Networking Academy program. A study will then be made to determine its impact on the ability of out-of-school youth to cope with the enhanced curriculum.

After the pilot testing, the enhanced curriculum may be adopted by existing and potential Cisco Networking Academies to benefit even more youths. As part of its outreach target, the Ayala Foundation will offer scholarships or educational loans to out-of-school youths who qualify for this particular program.

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