UnionBank and LSGH Visa Card|
A credit card with a cause.
By Estela Banzon-De la Paz
At six every afternoon, a different kind of student enters the gate of La Salle Greenhills. Although usually much older than the regular high school senior, he or she usually has a strong desire to learn. These are the students of the Adult Night High School, which charges a fraction of the tuition but uses the same curriculum as LSGH. Like the regular LSGH School, the night school is accredited by both the Department of Education Culture and Sports and by the Philippine Association of Accredited Schools, Colleges and Universities.
The night school was started in 1978 by the Christian Brothers to honor its founder and patron saint of teachers, St. Jean Baptiste de la Salle. In most of the countries where they have a presence, the Christian Brothers have championed the putting up of quality schools for the poor.
LSGH's night school targets men and women who are at least 18 years old and who have not been able to get their high school diploma because they didn't have enough money. Initially, the night school students were the drivers and domestic helpers of LSGH alumni or parents with sons currently enrolled in LSGH.
Today, the student profile has gone beyond the households of LSGH alumni and parents. It has also expanded to include the teaching of vocational courses such as electronics. To be accepted into the night school, the student must, however, still get a recommendation from an alumni or an LSGH parent.
"We need to raise at least P20 million to make the night school self-sufficient," said Henry Atayde, president of the LSGH Alumni Association. Aside from annual sums set aside by the Christian Brothers from the operation of the LSGH System nationwide, the night school has also been partially subsidized since last year by the LSGH Visa Card.
Issued by UnionBank of the Philippines, the bank automatically donates 50% of the annual P1,500 card fee to the night school. The bank also donates 0.5% of the amount spent by the cardholder and 1% of the interest on the outstanding balance of a cardholder to the Christian Brothers' outreach programs, which include the night school.
Watching these kids' enthusiasm in getting an education and learning new things is really fulfilling," Atayde said.
In its 23 years of operation, the night school's oldest student was a 71-year old man whom everybody called Tatay Nick. To get to Ortigas Avenue by six in the afternoon, he would leave his home in Laguna before three everyday. After his classes were over at nine, he would make the trip back home. When the Brothers learned about Tatay Nick's determination to get an education, they offered him a place to stay within the LSGH campus. The proud Tatay Nick accepted but only if he could do some chores within the school.
Tatay Nick is now 77 years old and is teaching in the night school.
Today, the LSGH credit card has opened up its membership base to include LSGH parents. Eventually, Atayde said the credit card will be offered to anybody who shares the education mission of the Christian Brothers.
To drum up business, the alumni association has hired students from the night school to follow up on card applications. "This gives the card a face or, at the very least, a human voice, " Atayde said.
Discounts from establishments owned by alumni such as the Triple V restaurant chain of Victor Villavicencio, the King's Court establishments of Arthur King and the Dish Restaurant of EJ Litton are also offered.
As a come-on to parents, the LSGH credit card may now be used to pay their son's tuition, using a one-year deferred payment scheme. The billing starts two months after enrollment.
To date, the night school has given out 882 high school diplomas and 1,260 vocational certificates. With P20 million in the bank, the night school will be able to accept more students who will not only get quality education but will also have hope for a better future for themselves and for their families.
Source: The Philippine Star, September 10, 2001
Article by Estela Banzon-De la Paz