Community-focused Off-Campus Programs:
Re-invigorating the PLM Experience

The Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila has come a long way in providing high quality education that molded not only wisdom, but more importantly, it brought transformational changes to those privileged to be educated the “PLM way.” The lasting impact in changing the course of life of each PLM scholar who hails from the poverty-struck community is a clear testament that PLM education is a class by itself. This so-called “PLM phenomenon” has inspired the current leadership of the University to expand the horizons of its commitment to social responsibility by reaching to other members of the larger society where PLM’s unique status can contribute to a larger extent to meaningful societal changes. This year, a revitalized array of off-campus programs (OCP) is being re-launched with a far better paradigm.

PLM’s academic-community extension program

OCP is not new to the experience of PLM. It traces its roots back in 1995 when the College of Nursing conceptualized a new program to re-tool the country’s midwifery program through the Bachelor of Community Health Services (BCHS). Graduates and board passers of the 2-year midwifery profession across the country found a way of spreading their golden hands -- from ensuring birthing life to babies -- to nursing health care among communities away from the modernity of urban medical health services. Health is the most basic among human services needed by the citizens, especially in far-flung areas, that yearn for emphasis and attention.

The success of the BCHS program ushered PLM to innovate other programs at the public governance sector. Realizing that a dedicated public service is the hallmark of a true republican society, PLM shaped its post-graduate program for government management (Master of Government Management) to give emphasis to the value-delivery of public services among the citizenry. A public institution itself, PLM has carved a niche in bringing about a distinct program in its own sphere of core competency. One step led to another as more programs of equal significance to the society were added to the growing list of community-focused learning paradigms, i.e., bachelor in public administration, master in business administration-top executive program, master in community health services, doctor in public management, among others.

Linkages and Service-delivery

To realize the objective of reaching a broader base, the colleges and graduate schools responsible for managing their respective programs have tied up mainly with government agencies, and community and professional organizations. Memoranda of agreement were forged to ensure quality control in delivering the educational objectives of the programs. Faculty members who are experts in their respective fields are sent by PLM into these agencies and communities to re-tool public and community servants right at their doorsteps. The policy research studies or dissertations of candidates for graduation are directed towards enhancing or uplifting the current state of affairs in their own communities by recommending stateful frameworks of significant contribution to the betterment of that community, through better health services or commendable public governance.

Clearer Visions

Fourteen years after, the refinement of OCPs in PLM still continues and keeps getting better. Himself a man for the masses, then-PLM President Adel Tamano saw the need to shift the gear into more community-focused learning programs. Moved by the stark poverty plaguing every nook of society, Tamano believes that a public institution like PLM is on a unique position to make a difference to the lot of our fellows who are less in life by focusing its efforts at uplifting the standards of life of these depressed communities. He noted that while corruption has plagued the higher echelon of the government which has contributed immensely to the widening gap between the rich and the poor, the want of literacy among our people, on the other hand, results to the perpetuation of poverty. He stressed that a hand-to-mouth meager income constrains even bright scholars to fall out of school early on to mend an empty stomach. They eventually fall prey to destitute chores, or worse to counter-productive vices and even illegal trades.

Tamano’s views are echoed by the academic community who found an ally in him in pushing the educational objectives of PLM into a higher dimension. Through a collective effort, PLM gave birth to a unique alternative program that caters to adults who are free to learn and study as they find convenient as they cannot mesh along with regular students on the account of their peculiar situation. Their learning activities are facilitated on a more personal way in a special room by the staff, faculty and select scholars of PLM who conduct this extension service for free or voluntarily, as a sense of commitment to the humanizing mission of the program. The adult learners follow a modular type of learning strands where core personal and interpersonal skills, as well as basic arts and sciences, are explored and learned. The College of Human Development has developed a scheduling technique that encourages the adult learners to continue on with their studies and enjoy the learning experiences without hampering their normal course of life. Successfully finishing the learning strands enables one to earn an equivalent secondary diploma, which can be a ticket to a PLM admission if he passes the entrance exam. While a secondary diploma may be enough to land them to more decent living and bring a change to their abject lot, a PLM degree opens up endless possibilities to a brighter life which is a sure bail-out from perpetual poverty.

Step Forward

Tamano’s vision of moving forward the OCPs where it matters most has evolved into a shared responsibility of the academic community. Existing OCPs also had their share of innovations in their program of implementation. Low tuition-fees that cover quality education and outstanding professors can even be paid by community health and public servants on a staggered basis. This is a step forward for the PLM’s foremost commitment to serve the good and welfare of the people by producing quality and devoted public servants whose primordial concern is the delivery of public services to the community.

Launching the new OCP Paradigm

These new offerings of PLM are a worthy milestone in the life of PLM. It only goes to show that with the right leadership, a public university can make a sure difference. Through the visionary and enlightened leadership of Tamano, PLM is always guided through the right path to tread a mission where only a few, if at all, would take that challenge. These community-centered programs were re-launched by the PLM community last 16 March 2009 as a modest yet fitting way of consigning those into PLM’s institutional memory.

Moving further even better, new acting president Atty. Rafaelito M. Garayblas affirmed the need to continuously polish the program to become more socially-responsive and reflective of the true worth of scholarship for which PLM is known for.