As the Philippines’ largest renewable energy producer and geothermal leader, Lopez-led Energy Development Corporation (EDC) not only strives to keep the lights on for ordinary households and large enterprises alike, but to also illuminate the path to sustainable progress for the benefit of future generations of Filipinos.
To achieve this, EDC has long recognized that quality education is essential, as well as access especially for the underserved sectors of society. Thus, along with its institutionalized environmental conservation and protection programs, initiatives in knowledge and learning have been an integral part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies primarily among its communities of operation across the country.
This year, EDC has responded to the increasing demands brought about by an evolving global climate to go beyond mere sustainability and ensuring positive impact on the environment. In line with the entire Lopez Group’s renewed thrust to “forge collaborative pathways for a decarbonized and regenerative future,” its business operations as well as its CSR programs have also undergone a shift to respond to a bigger challenge—that of elevating everything that the company touches.
Empowerment through learning
Education remains a top priority for EDC’s CSR initiatives, but this shift to regenerative progress necessitated a more intentional and responsive approach to the needs of its host communities, as well as streamlining various existing programs to make them more strategic and impactful, according to Atty. Allan V. Barcena, assistant vice president and head of the company’s CSR and public relations.
“We aspire for our communities to gain access to quality education that would enable them to become productive citizens and genuine changemakers in society and constantly find ways to help them achieve this,” explained Barcena.
Thus, SIKAT was born. It is EDC’s new brand of institutionalized education initiatives geared toward empowering communities through knowledge and learning, with the ultimate goal of self-reliance and meaningful contribution to the nation. It builds on the company’s decades of activities such as providing scholarships and bridging employment opportunities, and takes them a step closer to the heart of what EDC does.
“Foremost, in line with EDC’s identity as a 100% renewable energy company, advocacy for environmental sustainability will be integrated into the different components of our renewed education program,” said Barcena. Another key development is recognizing the broad range of intelligences and capacities of students today. Especially given the K to 12 Basic Education Program of the government, EDC aims to support academic scholarships not just in the tertiary level but also for technical-vocational courses as well as talent or skill-based tracks, such as in music, arts and sports.
A brighter future
What will not change is EDC’s synergy and partnerships with valued stakeholders, most important of which is the Department of Education along with many other government agencies and academic institutions. In Leyte, EDC implements its educational programs primarily through KEITECH, a technical-vocational training center that provides full scholarships and employment placement support to poor but deserving students. In Mindanao, EDC works closely with the Mount Apo Foundation Inc. (MAFI) in granting academic scholarships to deserving youth, especially those from the local indigenous peoples (IP).
Thus far, EDC’s initiatives in education have produced 202 scholars at the premier state university, the University of the Philippines, as well as other leading local state universities and colleges in its areas of operation. As a testament to the quality of learning that these scholars have exemplified, a dozen of the 89 graduates thus far have received honors and distinctions.
Meanwhile, since KEITECH’s establishment in 2009, the program has produced more than a thousand graduates now working in the construction, metal and engineering, and tourism sectors, boasting of a 100% passing rate in all competencies prescribed by the National Certificate Level II testing of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). As for MAFI, as much as 78 percent of its scholars are from the Manobo IP community, providing them equal access to education that will enable them to exist and evolve in today’s changing times.
Just as the name SIKAT embodies—a ray of light or an expression of pride and achievement—EDC’s programs in learning are a bright spot amid the challenges of economic and social progress of the Philippines as a developing nation. The impact of these educational initiatives are a long-term investment in the future of the country, much as the benefits of renewable energy will surely be reaped in the long run.