Saturday dawned bright and sunny for students of the College Education Behind Bars, the sole educational institution in the country located inside the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology facility in Maa. It was after all the first time they were pitted against each other in a basketball tournament that tested their agility and skill in playing the favorite sport of Filipinos.
Atty. Susan Cariaga, vice president of the Social Entrepreneurship Technology and Business Institute (SETBI), said this event is part of the mission of the school to develop not only the academic proficiency of students but to encourage them to be active in sports despite the inherent limitations inside jail, to keep their body and mind fit. With most of the students facing drug charges, Atty. Cariaga said this could also be part of their rehabilitation. The center also provides sessions to help them make healthy life choices.
She said that these students deserve and should be given another chance.
Earlier that day, Nov. 23, the students, all 53 of them coming from BS in Communication Technology, BS in Agri Business, Grade 11 and Grade 12, were treated to a soothing massage by therapists of Vaya Wellness, a treatment facility that uses Pulsated Electro Magnetic Field (PEMF) as their massage protocol.
Rajan Sujanani, founder of Vaya Wellness, in an interview with the media on Nov. 22, Friday, said that these students need to feel that they are not shunned because of a mistake they have done in the past and that they still have the chance to reverse their fate.
“And you can see how we can transform them into more healthy people,” he said, as he invited the media to witness the event.
“They need to feel good about themselves despite where they are now. We provide some kind of relief from the stress and tension they are presently undergoing,”Sujanani said.
He also partnered with Kaizen, a homegrown restaurant, to provide 100 packs of rice bowl for students before the start of the tournament.
Micah Vargas, representing Kaizen, said it has been their goal to give back to the people in the community and share the success of their business. She said this event dovetails perfectly well with their core values of love and respect.
The team captains are: Grade 11, Allen Jess Pagayon; Grade 12, Abdul Rauf Ali; and College, Maxuell Mozo.
The first game played by Grade 11 vs Grade 12 was held at 1pm, under the searing heat of the sun. Grade 12 lost to Grade 11. The championship will be played on Dec.13, with Grade 11 and College going head to head.
The College Education Behind Bars started operation on August 2017 in collaboration with the BJMP that found space inside the BJMP compound and the University of Southeastern Philippines that provided the degree programs. A year later, Grade 11 opened in partnership with the Christian Thompson School. The students underwent rigorous exams before they passed the scholarship given by SETBI.
The institute currently has 53 students enrolled in the programs.