At the crack of dawn, 16-year-old Dodong wakes up to his usual morning chore. He walks 100 meters from home to fetch water for household use. When he returned home, his five younger siblings were getting ready for school. His mother was busy preparing for breakfast with his 2-year-old brother in tow. On the table were shreds of dried fish soaked in vinegar and some rice leftover barely enough for three. Disheartened at the sight, he had to give way to his younger brothers and sisters who were already crowding the table. This was not the first time that he skipped breakfast. When his father lost his job last month because of economic slump, the situation got even worse. His sickly mother had accepted more laundry to augment the need of the family. As he left for school, he bid his parents goodbye and said a quick prayer for strength to get through one more day.
The depressing situation of Dodong’s family is common and many have learned to accept this “common situation” as a chronic disease of society that cannot be healed. Many have accepted defeatism but definitely not CITE.
When the Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise (CITE) was put up in 1990 through the inspiration of Opus Dei’s first prelate, Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, the people behind the institution believed that the battle against poverty is literally and figuratively an uphill climb.
Located on the elevated suburbs of Cebu City, CITE found a simple solution from the view from the top: quality technical education for the less privileged youth. If young people like Dodong were equipped with functional skills, they could easily find jobs or start a business and thus improve their living condition.
CITE’s 3-year flagship program called the Industrial Technician Program (ITP) simply does that. The program which sings almost its title aims at providing top-notch training to male high school graduates in any of these specializations: Mechanical Technology, Industrial Electronics Technology, Electromechanics Technology, and Information Technology. The ITP curriculum answers the rallying call of industries for highly skilled technicians.
ITP trains students for one year and a half in the school for theoretical subjects and laboratories related to their fields, and they are immersed in different industries for another one year and a half with corresponding allowance to help them defray their meal and transportation needs.
While in school, students benefit from strong support system that almost overshadows its main program. Apart from a curriculum that focuses on skill specific education, CITE gives emphasis on formative activities. Students are provided with one tutor each whom they can freely confide in their problems and seek for professional advice as regards their academic preparation.
Guided with the teaching of St. Josemaria Escriva, CITE ensures that the spiritual aspect of the students are never left out. Recollections, doctrine classes, daily mass and confession, and spiritual direction are within their reach for spiritual nourishment. Active student clubs, sports activities, and outreach projects also honed them into physically fit and socially active young individuals.
Another component is the scholarship assistance. Students enjoy either full or partial scholarship grants from alumni, civic groups, government units, and private companies and individuals. To sustain the program for the next generation of scholars, students are asked to give back to the school through its flexible sponsor-a-scholar-later scheme. Parents also take part in the education of their children through their monthly shares.
During their in-plant training, students are able to put their skills into real-life action under the watch of their supervisors. Students are protected by legalities due to the trainees. Their training is guided by a well-defined training plan aimed to use the students’ potential to the fullest. Regular plant visits by the class adviser or tutor are conducted to ensure that training-related concerns are immediately addressed.
CITE’s unique way of education is naturally inclusive. It deems the family and the faculty as important people in the holistic formation of the students. The active involvement of the parents in monthly parenting seminars and recollections helps them build a healthy relationship with their sons. Through the advisory meetings, parents get the opportunity to discuss with the teachers the scholastic performance of their sons and allow them to exchange notes with other parents.
Teachers, on the other hand, constantly undergo formative activities and programs for professional development to carry out their challenging task of forming their students into responsible adults and morally upright citizens.
The odds are really few for a CITE student not to land a job after three years. CITE graduates are noted for their competence and working values making them marketable in companies whose entry level requirements live up to a world-class standard. CITE graduates excel in their fields and continue to advance their career by pursuing higher education. Some have put their skills to good use by venturing into business. But one thing is common for sure—they all have put a better food on the table.
CITE’s vision to see many of them rising from rags has always become a beacon of hope to many young aspirants like Dodong who just started his journey to CITE. Their stories have continually inspired the people behind the institution to remain faithful to their commitment to provide opportunities to those who have less and give hope to those who have lost it.