Starweek features WMSU’s JEEP Project
December 20, 2010

The Philippine Starweek, magazine of the Philippine Star, on Sunday December 19 published an article �This JEEP gets them going!� by Martina Grau featuring the Job Enabling English Proficiency (JEEP) Project of the Western Mindanao State University (WMSU).

The article focused on how the 32 Hotel and Restaurant Management (HRM) students impressed the Singapore recruiters, with the help of the Job Enabling English Proficiency (JEEP) Project, during their interview for the internship program in prestigious hotels in Singapore.

All 32 students were accepted for the six-month internship mainly on the basis of their interviews, even though WMSU�s new HRM program has yet to graduate its first batch.

The article quoted Mr. Norbert Ojastro of the Ojastro Recruitment Agency saying �It�s rare that all the applicants from a single school is chosen.� Said recruitment agency is one of several recruiters accredited by the Commission on Higher Education to help college students complete their course practicum abroad.

�The Singaporean interviewers were impressed by the students, who appeared smart and knowledgeable, and expressed themselves well in English,� Ojastro added.

The acceptance rate among students applying for the international job internships can range from 35 to 70 percent per group of applicants from a particular school.

A vital factor in their success, the WMSU students and their teachers say, is the JEEP Project implemented by USAID�s Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) Program in partnership with 22 colleges and universities in the region, both public and private.

�I saw how our students had been transformed by their JEEP experience, so it wasn�t a surprise to me that they did so well,� said Prof. Lucia Santos, Dean of WMSU�s College of Home Economics.

JEEP is aimed at equipping students with specific English language skills needed for jobs in rapidly expanding sectors, such as travel and tourism, nursing and allied health care, maritime services, and other areas of international business.

The JEEP training begins with a year of computer-assisted instruction and classroom activities focusing on General English language skills, known as JEEP-Start.

This is followed by another one-year course, JEEP-Accelerate, that utilizes mixed mode instruction and focuses on English for Specific Purposes (ESP). These WMSU students�s JEEP-Accelerate studies focused on English for the travel and tourism industry.

JEEP does require investment from both the college and the students. The school must provide a dedicated speech laboratory, designate a JEEP coordinator and teachers, and commit to maintaining the laboratory equipment and multi-media training materials provided by the GEM Program.

To ensure sustainability of the JEEP Project in their school, the students must pay a fee over and above their tuition.

�In a state institution like ours, the P750 fee is a substantial investment for students,� said JEEP Coordinator Prof. Julie Uy Cabato, who is also the director of the WMSU Language Development Resource Center.

The article also mentioned that, to date, more than 10, 000 college students from across Mindanao have enrolled in JEEP, preparing to tell job recruiters and potential employers, in clear and confident English, that they have what it takes to succeed in their chosen fields. (Almar E. Villanueva)