Valenzuela City Mayor REX Gatchalian on Tuesday, April 15, said this year’s grantees of a city government-funded scholarship program should consider taking up social work in college.
“The frequent calamities have made social work as among those professions today that has a big demand but limited supply,” Mayor REX said during the contract signing of the Dr. Pio Valenzuela Scholarship Program at the Valenzuela City Center for the Performing Arts (VCCPA).
Of the 330 scholars this year - the biggest number since the program began in 1995 - two are pursuing social work.
“After you graduate from college, come back to the city government and we’ll hire you,” the local chief executive said.
At the City Social Welfare Development Office (CSWDO), only 10 of the 230-strong staff are registered social workers.
The need for more social workers has led the city government-run Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Valenzuela (PLV) to open a social work program, which began in 2012. The program now has 52 graduates and is set to graduate its first batch in 2016.
Linda Santiago, a social worker at the CSWDO, believes that social work is an unpopular choice of course among college students because of the daunting requirements of the profession, which includes working in the midst of disasters.
“Social work demands a lot of time from [its practitioner]. Madalas wala ka nang time para sa family mo. Sunog, bagyo – kahit lumilipad na ang bubong ng bahay mo – dapat nandito ka pa rin (Social work demands a lot of time from its practitioner. It would eat up the time you should be spending with your own family. A fire may break out, a typhoon may land – the wind is already blowing the roof of your house away – still, you stay with your work),” said Santiago, who has been working for the city government since 1994.
Besides the willingness to work for long hours in difficult situations, those thinking about going into social work must also have a non-judgmental attitude, Santiago added.
“You’d be meeting a lot of people in this work, most of them the poor,” Santiago said. “You should always respect the worth and dignity of every individual.”
Meanwhile, City Councilor Lorie Natividad-Borja said the scholarship committee raised the number of slots from the 150 from last year to 330 to give more youth access to higher education.
“In the past years, because slots were limited only to 70, there were applicants whose grades met the requirement but were not included in the program and had to look for private scholarships,” said Borja, who heads the Committee on Education of the City Council. Until last year, the program would set an annual quota of 70 scholars.
The scholarship program provides a grantee PhP 15,000 per semester until he or she graduates from college, which is about after four to five years.
To qualify, an applicant must: 1. be a resident of the city for the past four years; 2. be a graduate of either a private or a public school in Valenzuela City; 3. have a general weighted average of 85 per cent; 4. have an annual family gross income of not more than P 120,000; 5. a passer of the qualifying exam.
A Pio Valenzuela scholar must maintain a grade of no less than 2.25 in each subject and an average of 2.00 per semester to remain in the program.
Mayor REX had said during the recent graduation ceremonies of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Valenzuela (PLV) that the city government will continue investing in human capital and make college education available to more residents. Underway are plans to expand the campuses of the two public higher education institutions, the PLV and the Valenzuela City Polytechnic College, he said.