MANILA, Philippines – A new grant was awarded this year to a nongovernment organization helping overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) for the expansion of the information and technology skills training program for OFWs and their kin.
Microsoft Philippines awarded the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute with US$117,000 in cash and US$112,656 software grants for the expansion of the ‘Tulay’ Project.
“We at Microsoft recognize the significant contributions of the OFW community to the country, and this is why we came up with a program such as Tulay—to help complement their technology skills,” said John Bessey, Managing Director of Microsoft Philippines.
Bessey said the concept behind Tulay is still the same—to provide OFWs and their families with access to IT skills, enrich their communication experience, and open doors to more opportunities.
He said more than a million Filipinos leave for work abroad yearly. These workers, he said, have to deal with the challenges of working in another country, and at the same time, face the anxiety of leaving their families behind.
“The program serves not only a virtual bridge, closing the digital divide. We also ensure that we bridge the physical divide between our OFWs and their families through technology,” Bessey said.
Tulay was launched by Microsoft Philippines in 2004, in partnership with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and its attached agency, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). Four years later, Microsoft partnered with the Ople Center.
“With Tulay, there is no limit to learning. OFWs and their loved ones can continuously develop their technology skills for free. We are giving these modern-day heroes a way to communicate regularly with their loved ones and the opportunity to equip themselves with employable skills that will give them access to alternative career opportunities when they finally want to come home,” Bessey added.
Tulay students learn basic computer, word processing, spreadsheet, internet, digital media, presentations and database fundamentals.
Since the launch of Tulay, more than 20,000 individuals have been trained by the program. There are currently 24 Tulay centers here and abroad.
Ople Center head and senatorial bet Susan Ople thanked Microsoft Philippines for the new grant.
Ople said the new grant will be used to reactivate, improve, and strengthen Tulay Centers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; put up a Tulay Center that would cater to seafarers and their dependents; establish a Tulay Center in ARMM; and, provide financial literacy seminars to existing and future graduates of the program.
“We, at the Ople Center, observe that once empowered, the horizons of OFWs and their dependents suddenly expand,” Ople said.
Ople shared that they had an OFW Tulay graduate who worked as a domestic helper. After acquiring new IT skills and graduating from program she left again for abroad, “but this time, no longer as a domestic helper, but as a computer secretary in Dubai”.
“By transforming them into modern-technology users, we have also transformed their occupational possibilities. From being in the most vulnerable category of workers into professional staff,” she said.
by Maria Aleta Nishimori, abs-cbnNEWS.com