Norudin Kadil, 22, took one of the only jobs available to him in central Mindanao, in the south of the Philippines. The high school dropout went to work on a palay (rice) farm in his town of Lutayan in Sultan Kudarat province.
“We worked seven days a week during planting and harvest seasons, which are three months apart,” he recalls. “My income was barely enough for food.”
Then Kadil received word of a program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development called Skills Training and Industry Immersion, just one component of a longstanding EDC project in the Philippines known as Education Quality and Access for Learning and Livelihood Skills (EQuALLS2).
In Mindanao, a region wracked by decades of conflict, EQuALLS2 constructs and renovates schools and community centers, provides teachers with training opportunities, and delivers educational programs. It also offers basic education and workforce development training opportunities for youth who have dropped out of school, including small-engine mechanics, carpentry, weaving, baking, and—of greatest interest to Kadil—electronics repair. The program aims to reach more than 100,000 youth between 2006 and 2011.
“When I heard the training was free, I immediately enlisted, knowing that with a variety of skills, I would have a better chance of getting a better job,” says Kadil.
Instead of working irregular hours on his own in the fields, Kadil and 16 of his fellow graduates have formed an electronics repair guild and opened up shop in the town’s public market—at least for now.
Kadil imagines a future for himself in Koronadal City, a bustling urban center in Mindanao. “I dream of establishing my own repair shop,” he says.
Originally published on January 29, 2010