The Makati City government under the administration of Mayor Abigail Binay is expanding its Project FREE (Free Relevant Excellent Education) to increase benefits to more than 90,000 public school students in the city.
Project FREE covers the city´s public schools from preschool to senior high, including enrollees in the Special Education (SpEd) curriculum and Alternative Learning System (ALS).
The program, which has been providing free school supplies and school uniforms to students since 1995, has been expanded and now includes rubber shoes dubbed “Air Binay” by netizens, raincoats and rain boots, anti-dengue kits, and hygiene kits.
Last year, the city started to include ALS learners in its social development facilities as beneficiaries of Project FREE. A total of 43 boys in the Makati Youth Home and 41 girls in the Makati Social Development Center received free supplies, uniforms and shoes from the city.
In her recent State of the City Address (SOCA), Binay announced that the second edition of “Air Binay” is already up for distribution this January to some 49,873 kinder to grade 6 students and SpEd learners, and 40,171 students from grades 7 to 12.
Innovative programs have also been launched in 2018 in line with Mayor Binay´s vision of “globally competitive Makatizens” emerging from the city’s public education system. These include free tutorials in mathematics, work immersion programs for senior high school students and SpEd learners, and free educational trips, among others.
Last September, the city launched Project MILES (Mathematics Intensive Learning Enhancement for Students) aimed at improving the mathematical proficiency of public schoolchildren in the city. It uses worksheets and “KooBits,” a highly personalized Singaporean mathematics software.
With an initial budget of P12.5 million, the project currently provides two programs: 180 MILES offering regular lessons for students struggling in mathematics and 360 MILES with advanced lessons for students who are proficient in the subject.
Two teaching methodologies are being used in Project MILES. One is the worksheet-based approach where students are given worksheets to answer during their study sessions, while the e-learning approach uses KooBits, which provides Mathematics instructions through a series of computer-based interactive lessons.
Also in 2018, the city launched the Senior High School Work Immersion Program, in which senior high school students are deployed to various offices and project sites of the city government, and are provided with training related to their course. Some 410 students from public and private senior high schools in the city have participated in the program since it commenced last January.
The city government also launched SPEED for SpED, a training program for SpEd learners aimed at increasing their productivity and employability. Its first batch of beneficiaries composed of 150 SpEd learners received transportation and meal allowances while attending skills training in Makati’s public senior high laboratories, and during work immersion proper with industry partners and City Hall.
Meanwhile, the city has also allocated P100 million for free educational trips of public schoolchildren in Makati under the Talent Optimization Programs for Students aimed at stimulating their thirst for learning during the early years of their education.
Last November, a total of 3,175 students from various elementary schools went on their free educational trip, while 3,056 elementary students took their turn last December. They visited Kidzania, Manila Ocean Park, and Mind Museum. Historical places will also form part of future educational trips to help students appreciate cultural heritage.
In 2017, through the initiative of Mayor Binay, SpEd learners started receiving educational assistance from the city. All 780 SpEd learners currently enrolled in Makati public school each received P5,000-educational assistance from the city in 2018.