Of OJTs and Irregularities
By Johanne R. Macob
FIVE years ago, I had my internship in The PUNCH. The internship program that I and my classmates experienced had been satisfactory, with no irregularity issues raised. Thanks to the guidelines observed by both our higher education institution (HEI) and the host training establishment (HTE). Our professor, Sir Rolly Fernandez, head of the Philippine Daily Inquirer Northern Luzon Bureau (who is also my boss today), coordinated well with PUNCH publisher-editor, Sir Ermin Garcia Jr., and from that, the rest of the success of the internship was assured.
Recently, alleged irregularities in the implementation of the internship or the on-the-job training (OJT) program of the province’s biggest and state university, the Pangasinan State University (PSU) reached the Provincial Board. Briefly, one of the student-interns has been hospitalized due to lung illness, supposedly due to his exposure at a chemical laboratory based in Laguna where he had his OJT. PSU was subsequently probed by the Provincial Board. It appeared that the OJT was facilitated by a local employment firm, JIF Manpower and Referral Services where the students are treated as regular workers. (PSU President Dexter Buted was quoted to have said the passing off of students as workers was beyond PSU’s control).
Now, let’s look at Commission on Higher Education’s (CHEd) established guidelines, which if followed, might have not caused any injury to any party. The guidelines provide, among others, that prior to the OJT, there must be a duly signed memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the HEI and the HTE. In PSU’s case, there was no MOA between the PSU and the HTE, the Interphil Laboratories Inc. It even appeared that JIF was left to coordinate with Interphil for the students. So where’s PSU in the picture?
Further, PSU must “have a manual or plan designed in collaboration with the HTE” and “shall furnish the HTE with the evaluation system to be followed in the evaluation of the student performance.” Per CHEd’s guidelines, the parties involved are the HEI, the HTE, the student/intern, the parent/guardian of the student, and the CHEd. So why was there a need to have a recruitment company in the PSU internship program? Is the coordination a responsibility of the OJT coordinator? I believe these issues should not be taken as beyond PSU’s control and should be perceived as its responsibility, instead.
If there’s a silver lining to the issue and to what happened with one of the students, it’s the timely probe of these irregularities. PSU with its eight campuses, has the biggest population in the region, and it hurts to think that conventional programs as the internship is still handled inefficiently. Add to this all other controversies involving the University. I hope the provincial government, the CHEd, the PSU and other concerned will resolve these to everyone’s satisfaction. It is also my prayer that the affected student gets well soon and that all students will be more vigilant especially in issues concerning them and their school.
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