Education, tourism sectors must develop together

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BAGUIO CITY – Baguio’s education and tourism sectors must be improved simultaneously with each other because our city is not only the summer capital of the Philippines, but is also the prime educational centre north of Metro Manila.

Thus stressed former Baguio Representative Bernardo Vergara, who also served as mayor over a decade ago, who stressed that the funding of college scholarships for our city’s needy impoverished youths should be continued, and the expansion of these funded scholarships under the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples, Commission on Higher Education and the Alternative Learning System of the Department of Education should be worked on.

“School building projects should also be focused now on vertical construction with new floors for classrooms to be built on top of existing buildings,” Vergara explained, saying that from 2010 to 2013, he legislated for the conversion of ten Baguio City National High School and Pines City National High School annexes into national high schools, and other eligible school annexes should aiso be reviewed for possible elevation into nationalized status.

“This should decentralize administrative authority, spur the upward promotion of existing teaching and non-teaching personnel, and achieve higher standards of learning. National funds could then be allotted for teacher-training and high-tech learning programs, while learning processes in public schools will be expanded and computerized. Livelihood augmentation programs of parent-teacher associations will also be promoted,” he continued.

In addition, Vergara said that the annual search for outstanding students in elementary and high school, and for leadership recognition at the college or vocational level should be launched and sponsored.

Aside from that, he said that funding and technical support for youth-oriented talent contests and livelihood projects of youth-serving organizations should also be increased.

In sports, Vergara pointed out that efforts to modernize and make the Athletic Bowl a world-class sports center, and for the City of Baguio to become a more worthy host for prestigious international, national and regional sports competitions should be supported.

“Funding support for the training and participation of city athletes and coaches in international, national and regional sports events, as well as counterpart incentive prizes to winning youth athletes in national and regional competitions should be provided,” he continued.

In the barangay level, Vergara said that playgrounds and covered courts should also be upgraded and provided with the proper equipment for regular sports events, and inter-barangay sports competitions and athletic events should also be actively promoted and supported to keep our youth from drug addition, juvenile delinquency, street crime, alcoholism and other social vices.

In the field of art, he stressed that the holding of art events and cultural enrichment programs should also be supported to showcase Baguio as a haven for culture and the arts, and as a melting pot of different cultural traditions in harmony with each other, while incentives for achieving performing artists and cultural advocates should also be provided.

To balance this, Vergara explained, congressional efforts should also be exerted for the fast-tracked implementation of the Tarlac – Pangasinan – La Union Expressway, which he helped coordinate from 2010 to 2013, and work must be done for its completion up to Rosario, La Union. “This will reduce land travel time from Baguio to Manila, and vice versa, to only 3 hours. The completed highway will generate more frequent tourist arrivals, thus boosting tourism growth,” he pointed out.

Vergara said that new special tourism events that capitalize on “our incomparable scenic landscape, our rich cultural and art heritage as a melting pot of varied cultures and traditions” should be encouraged.

He said that greater management coordination and expansion of budgetary assistance for the Panagbenga Baguio Flower Festival as a community-driven, city-supported tourism headliner should also be supported, while incentive awards to winning street dancers of the festival should be provided.

Other than that, Vergara said that the continued development and modernization of the Baguio City Public Market as an added tourist attraction with consequent income-generation for the city and market vendor stakeholders should be supported.

It may be recalled that in the past decade alone, Baguio City affirmed its stature as a prime education center, as shown by indicators, particularly at the higher education level.

Enrolment in tertiary education increased, performance in board and licensure examinations remained high, accreditation of programs of higher education institutions was maintained, and enrolment of foreign students increased. These, among others, indicate that the city continues to be the leading educational center of Northern Luzon.

The technical-vocational education and training (TVET) sector similarly performed well during the same period, with Baguio recognized as the top performer.

Eernie N. Olson Jr.

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