“Gradwaiting,” in the literal sense, became a thing in the earlier half of the pandemic. People would rather do it virtually while some would wait to bask in revelry. The post-celebration seemed even more daunting, especially when many graduates realized that it would be hard to pursue their dream jobs in the pandemic recession.
Meanwhile, 488 graduates from urban-poor communities and neglected provinces, who were the beneficiaries of Caritas Manila’s Youth Servant Leadership and Education Program (YSLEP), didn’t even think twice about getting that diploma during these difficult times. Of the graduates, 28 received academic awards, including five magna cum laudes, two cum laudes, 11 dean’s listers, and 12 special awardees.
But there is no need to paint them in a light that borders on poverty porn to empower the wrong people. For Caritas Manila’s YSLEP, education will always be a universal right.
“Education is the best social equalizer,” says Caritas Manila executive director Fr. Anton CT Pascual. “The future servant leaders of the country will come from the poor.”
Every year, there are about 1,000 Youth Servant Leaders who graduate under Caritas Manila’s YSLEP. Currently, there are 4,200 active scholars. More than 10,000 scholars have benefitted from Carita’s Manila’s education program over the past 66 years. In 2019 alone, 98 percent of YSLEP
scholars found employment six months after graduation.
All YSLEP graduates automatically become members of the Caritas Manila Scholars Association (CAMASA). Last year, the association gave P1.6-million worth of donation in cash and kind in support of Caritas Manila’s projects.
Caritas Manila strongly believes that education is the best way of fighting poverty. A college or vocational/technical degree gives an individual a 98-percent chance of helping his family overcome poverty. At present, there are 3.8 million out-of-school youths in the Philippines.