Security Bank is committed to the principles sustainable banking as a key element for growth and ‘future-proofing’ of its organization. The Bank recognizes the challenge of being accountable for its impact on society.
Fourteen-year-old Mary Jane, a Grade 7 student, is already up at six a.m. preparing for school. At quarter to seven, she goes out of their small house carrying a donated backpack filled with school supplies and walks to her new school inside the Gawad Kalinga (GK)-Ateneo community, a relocation site in the middle of a rice field for in Sitio St. Joseph, Brgy. San Fernando Sur in Cabiao, Nueva Ecija.
Mary Jane’s morning routine would have been entirely different had this been last year. She would have risen earlier at 5 a.m. to prepare for school. She would have taken a 20-minute tricycle ride to the nearest public high school in the town proper. She would have needed P150 a day for transportation and lunch money, which her poor family couldn’t afford. So, to get to school, she would have walked an entire hour.
This school year, Mary Jane and her classmates will no longer have to travel far to go to school to complete their secondary education as a new public high school has already been built right inside their community through the help of the Department of Education, (DepEd), the local government units (LGUs) and partner donor Security Bank Foundation Inc. (SBFI).
“We are grateful to our partners and donors, especially Security Bank Foundation, who helped us realized this goal,” shares Gloria Crespo-Congco, former mayor of Cabiao, Nueva Ecija during the inauguration of SBFI’s school building donation to St. Joseph National High School in Sitio St. Joseph, Brgy. San Fernando Sur last June 29.
“The children in the GK-Ateneo community are able to get kindergarten and elementary education because we have a public elementary school there. But since we have no high school program offered in the community, we have observed that there are many out-of-school-youths or student drop-outs. This was due to lack of money for food and transportation as well as the distance of the nearest public high school from their homes,” according to Crespo-Congco.
Security Bank, through its corporate social responsibility arm, the Security Bank Foundation, Inc. (SBFI), was able to help Cabiao, Nueva Ecija bring education closer to the children of Sitio St. Joseph with the newly-constructed school building for the use of the students under the “Build a School, Build a Nation: The Classrooms Project”.
Security Bank, one of the top banks in the Philippines, focuses on a number of sustainability projects for education, livelihood, and environment, and allocates a percentage of the Bank’s revenues to the Foundation to fund these worthwhile projects.
SBFI’s “Build a School, Build a Nation: The Classrooms Project”, which recently won a Philippine Quill 2015 Merit Award for corporate social responsibility, aims to build classrooms to help reduce classroom shortage and improve the academic performance of public school students in communities where Security Bank is present. The Foundation likewise supports training for teachers and encourages volunteer work among its employees to transform a number of these public schools into havens of learning.
Surpassing the goal
SBFI’s initial goal was to build only 60 classrooms in five years, but the program has already surpassed the target four times over. The Foundation has completed the construction of 253 classrooms donated to 57 public schools located in 32 cities and municipalities nationwide over a five-year period. The new classrooms will benefit some 25,000 students every school year.
For the second semester of 2016, the Foundation has 128 classrooms in the pipeline for donation to 20 public schools in seven cities and municipalities in the Luzon and Mindanao regions. These classrooms are in various stages of planning, negotiation and construction. By end of this year, SBFI expects to have formally turned over a total of 377 classrooms to 76 public schools in 43 cities and municipalities across the country. These classrooms will benefit an estimated 35,000 students every school year or over 800,000 public school students in 25 years.
“With the yearly increase in the number of students in the country, public schools face the problem of classroom shortage and poor learning conditions for students. Teachers oftentimes hold classes in basketball courts and under the shade of trees within the school compound,” said Rafael Simpao, Jr., SBFI Chairman.
“We believe that a good education is the greatest equalizer in life because it will give our school children an opportunity to succeed in life. Hence, in celebration of Security Bank’s 60th anniversary in 2011, SBFI launched the ‘Build a School, Build a Nation: The Classrooms Project’ in partnership with Ateneo de Manila University to help address these issues by building and donating classrooms for needy public schools in the Philippines,” added Simpao.
For SBFI’s classroom project, the LGUs provide the lot or property where the buildings will be constructed while the DepEd pitches in by helping identify the recipient public school beneficiaries and by providing the classroom furniture. The local government units also monitor the progress of the construction of these learning facilities.
The public schools that have already benefitted from SBFI’s “Classrooms Project” are located in various cities and provinces in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
In Roxas City, Capiz, the new classrooms donated by the Foundation are the “answer to the prayers of the students and school staff of Inzo Arnaldo Village Integrated School”, according to the school’s principal, Mr. Tomas Hupeda. These donated classrooms of SBFI are currently occupied by the Special Education students who are visually-impaired, hearing-impaired, and intellectually-disabled.
“We used to conduct our SPED classes in one room only. Now you can see the excitement of students to come to school every day because of this wonderful building containing four classrooms that is conducive to their learning,” said School Principal Hupeda.
In the aftermath of the earthquake and on the eve of Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013, SBFI turned over 12 classrooms to two public schools in Mandaue City in Cebu. During the inauguration of SBFI’s school building donation to Basak Elementary School, former Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes shared that, “Security Bank Foundation’s donation of school buildings to the city was timely because over 60 classrooms were damaged by the earthquake.” He also shared that he was impressed with the quality of the school buildings donated to the two public school beneficiaries because the structures did not have any hairline cracks despite the subsequent strong earthquake which affected the city.
In the Yolanda typhoon-affected province of Leyte, SBFI also donated 26 classrooms for three public schools in Tacloban City and 12 classrooms for two public schools in Ormoc City.
“SBFI delivered typhoon-resistant, disaster-resilient school buildings to the city, which is currently being enjoyed by public schools with high student population. SBFI’s invaluable support to the City of Tacloban, especially to the children victims of Typhoon Yolanda, showed us that beyond tragedies, there will always be a compassionate hand helping us to stand and dream again,” said Vice Mayor Jerry Yaokasin of the City Government of Tacloban.
Keeping volunteerism alive
“The Classrooms Project” also brought different groups in the community to work together for the benefit of the public school children. Aside from the LGUs and the DepEd Division Office partners, the local barangay councils and public school beneficiaries’ Parents and Teachers Associations (PTAs) also help by maintaining the cleanliness of the classrooms.
Security Bank employees, on the other hand, are provided a sense of community belonging and accomplishment, as well as increased social awareness and community participation by helping clean and paint the classrooms constructed by the Foundation.
“The Bank strongly encourages volunteerism among the employees. We want to communicate that career growth also includes having the capacity to help others who are in need. Bank employees gladly participate in these projects, which also allow them to appreciate the community around them,” said Simpao.
Sarah Jean Marucot, an employee of the bank’s Financial Control Division, started volunteering for SBFI in 2011. “I like to pay it forward, wherein you repay the kindness done to you and the countless blessings you’ve received by doing good deeds to others,” she said. “One way for me to practice this is by doing volunteer work organized by the Foundation. I like all activities that the foundation conducts, especially those involving education. It feels good to know that you have done something to help inspire children to stay in school.”
Promoting holistic growth
Simpao said that SBFI’s approach to education is “holistic” as the program does not only fund classroom constructions, but also grants scholarships to poor and deserving students, partners with organizations sharing the same cause, and donates educational materials to schools that desperately need them.
SBFI has already donated desktop computers, laptops, LCD projectors and screens, school supplies, and armchairs to a number of schools.
One recipient of SBFI’s computer donation is the Resources for the Blind, Inc. The organization, which runs a school for the visually-impaired, now has a hub for the students for their printing, encoding and research requirements. The computers are installed with a screen reading program to make them easier to use by students with visual disability.
“Those who became visually impaired at a later age become interested in learning how to use the technology for job searches, work applications, accessing information or even continuing their work after becoming blind. As mentioned by a computer engineer who became blind, the software installed in the unit will enable him to do the work that he was doing before he lost his sight,” according to Lorina Ang, communications specialist at Resources for the Blind, Inc.
In partnership with the Ateneo Center for Educational Development and De La Salle Philippines, SBFI also provides teacher training.
Since 2014, over 200 teachers from the public school beneficiaries of “The Classrooms Project” have received training. Elementary and high school teachers learn advanced skills in teaching different subjects such as mathematics and English to elementary and high school students. Another 400 public school teachers are scheduled for trainings sometime in October and November 2016.
“The training in elementary mathematics was very helpful in giving me new ideas and strategies. It made my teaching easier, especially teaching math. My pupils enjoy learning the subject,” said Rubylene Pontejos, an elementary teacher in Naga City who underwent training last 2014.
“We can attribute the notable effect of such training to the significant increase in NAT6 and LAPG results among our students. Just this year, we topped the Naga South District B results in the quarterly examinations,” said Elvira Evangelista, school principal of Villa Grande Elementary School in Naga City.
Security Bank clients are also involved in the Foundation’s projects by supplying the construction supplies and other education-related materials such as computer multi-media equipment and school supplies needed by the Foundation to help its school beneficiaries and communities. The Foundation gives bank clients the chance not just to grow their business, but to also help communities by providing quality work and services.
The Foundation’s holistic, multi-sectoral and synergized approach in implementing its projects is the key reason for the success of its education program. Simpao said, “By helping improve the quality of public education, ‘The Classrooms Project’ gets everyone to participate in creating a better tomorrow for the next generation of Filipinos.”