Today we are visiting the Ayala Foundation, the 49 year old social arm of the Ayala Corporation, one of the oldest and largest business groups in the Philippines.
The Foundation is to be found on the corner of Ayala Avenue but there is a clear distinction between the Foundation’s humble brown-carpeted office and the glittering corporate headquarters, surrounded by helipads.
Ayala works to address poverty in the Philippines in all its forms and the staff at the Foundation have already been really helpful to us in setting up meetings with their partners for our fieldtrip. We will be seeing 5 of their projects in the next two weeks and today we simply want to get an overview of their work and the social issues that are significant in this country.
One of the sector’s Ayala focuses on is education. There are 37,000 public primary schools, 6,500 secondary schools. 42% graduate from high school, 20% go to college and only 14% graduate from college. The government budget for schooling children is $100/child/year. Shocking to us, the average capacity of the teachers is only up to grade 4. The overall picture is of an education deficit; although tuition is free, there is a high poverty-related drop-out rate of about 35%.
We are going to be seeing their pilot school programme which helps slum children obtain a first-class education, and their internet literacy programme, helping secondary public schools connect to the internet and give children access. We also hear about their partnership with Nokia’s text2teach remote teaching aide which allows teachers to connect phones to TVs and download clips to help teach a range of subjects.
They also host a Young Leaders Congress where 80 of the Philippines most promising youth leaders are collected together for a 3 day congress. It is about to take place, and, noting our interest, the team immediately arrange for us to be part of their CEO helicopter shuttle service so that we can attend the opening ceremony tomorrow.