He dreams of becoming an electrical engineer, but if the odds are against it, he can become an electrician.
At 18, Mc Jemart Martinez has to ensure he has something to fall back on if his parents are unable to send him to college. He decided to take the Electrical Installation and Maintenance (EIM) track at the Bantayan National High School (BNHS) to be able to work immediately after graduation and be a step closer to his dream.
When Martinez graduates from senior high, he will be among the first EIM graduates in the country who will have knowledge in solar power installation and maintenance.
Vivant Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of Cebu-based Vivant Corporation, donated photovoltaic panels, inverters, batteries, power tools and equipment, as well as a laptop and a projector to BNHS to enable instructors to effectively teach EIM students about solar power installation and maintenance.
“The donation from Vivant Foundation is a big help. Before, we relied on our imagination. When there is a required demonstration of actual diagramming, we cannot proceed because we did not have the tools and equipment,” Martinez said in Cebuano.
Maintaining the solar rooftop installation that will be put up by Vivant Foundation at the Hilotongan Island Integrated School will be part of the on-the-job training for EIM students. The solar rooftop installation project will begin during the dry months as part of Vivant Foundation’s efforts to energize off-grid schools.
“The integration of solar power installation and maintenance in EIM tech-voc curriculum for senior high school students not only empowers the next generation to grab opportunities in the technology of the future, but also ensures the sustainability of the solar power installation in Hilotongan and future solar-powered schools,” Vivant Foundation Executive Director Shem Garcia said.
Garcia noted that some solar electrification projects have not been sustainable because they did not come with the education on how to repair and maintain the equipment.
“That is how we got the idea to incorporate an education component into the project,” he said. “Since this is the first time solar is being integrated into the EIM course in senior high school anywhere in the country, our engineers worked with DepEd and TESDA to create a new curriculum which can be replicated nationwide to prepare students for the economy of the future.”
Martinez, the eldest in a brood of five, said he is hopeful about getting a good job with a steady income even if his parents would not be able to pay for his college education.
He takes care of his grandmother while his parents try to eke out a living in Metro Cebu and save enough money to rebuild their home in Bantayan, which was destroyed when super typhoon Yolanda hit northern Cebu in November 2013.
“Being the eldest and the only boy, it is my responsibility to help my parents,” Martinez said.
Garcia said that he expects more interest in solar energy as the technology becomes more affordable, which would mean more opportunities for EIM graduates like Martinez.
The Renewable Energy Management Bureau said that as of June 2017, the Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded 186 solar power projects, with a potential capacity of 5,181.67MW and installed capacity of 900 MW, for grid use and 16 projects for own use, having a potential capacity of 4.286MW and installed capacity of 3.218MW. The DOE has 210 pending applications for solar with potential capacity of 2,114.70 MW.
The government aims to increase the country’s renewable energy installed capacity to 20,000 MW by 2040.
John Ray Tapales, EIM instructor at the BNHS, said that Vivant’s assistance will increase the number of tech-voc graduates who will have the right knowledge and skills in a growing industry.
“We believe that having local populations educated in solar technology will promote the use of renewable energy to address our country’s growing demand for energy in a manner that promotes ecotourism in places like Bantayan, which is known for the beauty of its beaches and seas,” Garcia said.