Aboitiz group yields high ROI from education
The profitable Aboitiz group of companies has the freedom to put its funds in any project, in any field and in any province. But as far as the sprawling conglomerate is concerned, investments in education provide the highest returns.
This is why the Aboitiz group, through Aboitiz Foundation Inc., has committed to devote about half of its annual budget for corporate social responsibility projects to those related to education. In fact, the money that it has put into education over the past six years is nearing the P1-billion mark and it is not about the turn off the tap.
The Aboitiz group took stock of its accomplishments in the field of education recently during its Interventions in Education 2011, which recognized the individual education programs as well as the beneficiaries, many of whom come from its home base of Cebu.
Aboitiz Foundation President Jon Ramon Aboitiz said in his speech before scholars and partners in the education programs that the Aboitiz group values corporate social responsibility and that sharing with the less fortunate is a philosophy that the Aboitiz forefathers have left behind and now integrated in the way the group runs its different businesses.
The group is present in education and skills development, enterprise development, primary health and child care and the environment, but education and skills development takes precedence.
In the last six years, the Aboitiz group has allocated P1.4 billion for these programs and of this amount, P823 million, or about 60 percent, went to education-related initiatives.
“It is in education and skills development where we believe we can create a more lasting impact on the lives of our countrymen to ensure a better future for them. It is for this reason that we continuously allocate more than 50 percent of our annual budgets for education-related interventions,” Aboitiz said.
“Our CSR teams monitor, measure and evaluate these programs using a scorecard system that was devised to find out which projects and programs are worth replicating, improving, and have the greatest impact on beneficiaries. The scorecard measurement also assists in finding ways to improve our interventions and guides us on where to focus the Foundation’s resources to help improve our country’s public education system,” he added.
The private family foundation—Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc., which operates in the Visayas and Mindanao—assists through its school rehabilitation program, scholarship grants, heritage conservation and its Kool Adventure Camp, where people can learn about leadership and teamwork.
“In planning and implementing our interventions in education, we are always reminded of what Ralph Ellison, a famous author, said: ‘Education is all a matter of building bridges.’ [These are] bridges that will take our children to a better place, to a better future. It is on these bridges that our youth will learn new things and see new horizons…bridges that will bring our students to their second homes,” Aboitiz said.
“We look at all our interventions in education as building bridges for our youth. We take it as our responsibility to guide them, educate them, and make sure that they are equipped with the knowledge and skills to be able to succeed in the future, and contribute to our country’s progress,” he added.
In the area of classrooms, the group has committed to turn over 100 classrooms this year, including armchairs, blackboards, comfort rooms and proper lighting. Next year, another 100 classrooms will be constructed to provide public schools with the needed infrastructure that are conducive for learning.
In support of the computerization program, Aboitiz said the group would give Information Technology teachers in selected public schools honoraria to make sure they focus on teaching information technology, which is needed by the youth to compete in the global marketplace.
The Aboitiz group likewise devotes considerable funds to its scholarship program. Every year, it supports more than 1,500 scholars from pre-school to college.
The group’s business unit, Unionbank of the Philippines, also has a book donation program called the UnionBank Learning System in which Grade 2 teaching books, workbooks and teachers manuals are distributed to public schools nationwide. About 1.4 million Grade 2 students and 24,000 teachers have benefited from this program.
The next phase of the UnionBank program is to expand its reach and this school year, 500,000 books will be distributed nationwide and this number will be maintained every school year, Aboitiz said.
He added that the group also assists in the DepEd’s Alternative Learning System by helping students learn in different skills training programs.
Aboitiz said that the group continues to review the structure and impact of these programs to make sure that every peso is well spent. Given how much help the sector needs, it cannot afford to do anything less.