Far from Manila, in the southern Philippine city of Butuan, is an institution which from humble beginnings four decades ago has become a first class university. That school’s mission is to make vocational training and a university education accessible to all. Saint Joseph’s Institute of Technology has traveled a remarkably long way in a short period of time. SJIT was founded by an energetic young man named Dr. Nicomedes A. Salas, whose driving vision was to provide local youth with a high quality education that they could not otherwise obtain without traveling. As its name implies, SJIT is focused on technical and vocational arts, allowing students from less privileged backgrounds to obtain the education and skills they need to advance in life. The school is non-profit and non-sectarian, and has embraced modern techniques of education and quality management in order to reach the outstanding results that it has.
The Philippines: A Tropical Paradise with a Venerable Educational History
The Philippines consists of 7,107 islands spread out along the eastern edge of the South China Sea between Taiwan and Indonesia. It is home to about 100 million people who live in a tropical climate that varies little from summer to winter. Some have called it “perpetual spring,” and for that reason the Philippines draws visitors to every part of the island nation all year round to enjoy its sandy beaches, snorkeling, sailing, rain forests, cultural heritage, and incredible biodiversity, including over 100 mammal species and 170 bird species thought to be unique to the islands. New species of mammals, corals, and fish are being discovered at one of the highest rates in the world.
The Philippines was colonized by the Spanish in the 16th century and remained part of the Spanish empire for more than three centuries. The Spanish legacy can be seen all over the nation in its architecture, heard in its language, and witnessed in the heavy Catholic influence in many parts of the country. Manila grew to be one of the most important trading hubs in Asia during the Spanish occupation.
One of the most enduring legacies of the Spanish colonial period is the University of Santo Tomas, established in 1611, and the oldest existing university in Asia. With more than 42,000 students, UST is the largest Catholic University in the world located on one campus. It consistently ranks as one of the best universities in Asia and several degree programs have been accredited by the Commission on Higher Education as Centers of Excellence and Centers of Development. Its graduates dominate the top ten in courses with board exams (Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Engineering, Architecture, Accountancy, Education, etc.) year in and year out. UST has produced 4 presidents, 3 vice presidents and 6 Chief Justices, along with saints, national heroes, renowned scientists and artists, and leaders in practically every other field of endeavor.
Among its charitable works is a Legal Aid clinic.
With a dynamic, growing population, colleges and universities have continued to be established in the Philippines until today there are 2,299 according to the Philippine government website. And whereas in the past a university education was accessible only to the rich, today there is a wider variety of institutions serving the needs of the entire population.
The Dream of One Man Allows Many to Complete Their Dreams
The beginnings of SJIT were indeed humble. In 1971, the learning center consisted of two typewriters, a sewing machine and some furniture in a rented space with three students. Dr. Salas taught basic livelihood skills to the poor, and the course offerings consisted of Typewriting, Stenography, Men’s Tailoring, Bookkeeping, and Dressmaking. But in three short years, the school had become so successful that it began to offer technical and professional programs. The old rented building was bought and renovated, then more property was acquired and a second building erected. Six buildings were eventually constructed on the campus, and two other branch campuses were opened.
The school’s academic offerings increased with enhanced enrollment and facilities. Eventually, the college offered courses in marine engineering, marine transportation, engineering, humanities, liberal arts, business, nursing, education and management. Today, the courses taught by the school range from vocational training for mechanics and housekeepers all the way through several masters programs and a PhD program in business.
SJIT won accreditation in 1996 and obtained its ISO 9001 Certificate in 1998. It now ranks in the top 10% of Philippine colleges and universities by 2015 4icu.org web ranking, and continues today to provide a top education to everyone.
Coming this far this fast wasn’t easy, but SJIT did it through a combination of hard work by its staff and students and a clear plan and vision of where they wanted the institution to be. From its very beginning, the purpose of the school was to provide a dynamic and progressive higher education opportunity to the people of Butuan and the Caraga Region of the Philippines. This goal was to be met, according to the school itself, by “empowering competent, accountable, socially and environmentally responsible individuals and promoting cultural, moral and ethical values through lifelong learning.”
One of the tools that SJIT uses in maintaining its position as a first class provider of education is a clear and effective Quality Policy, which guides administration and staff in everything they do. This type of modern management practice has not always been common in academia, and SJIT is a first mover in recognizing the importance of Quality. ISO 9001 certification is just one example of the school’s commitment to quality.
More specifically, the Quality Policy at SJIT consists of:- Quality and competitive human resources
- Delivery of quality instruction responsive to the training needs of students and industry requirements
- Provision of highly adequate infrastructure, training facilities and learning resources
- Active involvement of students and faculty in research and community extension services as well as in co-curricular and extracurricular activities
- Empowerment of personnel and students in their respective functions
- Continual improvement of the quality management system
Implementation of the Quality Policy has led to concrete results and recognition from numerous outside organizations, in addition to ISO 9001:2008 certification. The school is a member of 28 national and regional accrediting and professional associations in practically every field of study it teaches.
Provision of first class educational opportunities is a labor of love for SJIT, its faculty and its staff, but catering to the needs of less privileged students has not meant a lowering of quality standards. SJIT has proven that it can compete with the best universities in the country to many students who otherwise would not receive a higher education.
Because of its commitment to continuous quality improvement, St. Joseph's Institute of Technology has been selected to receive the BID International Star Award for Quality for 2015 at the convention in Geneva.
About BID and the International Star Award for Quality:
BID is a private and independent organization founded in 1984, whose primary activity is business communication orientated towards quality, excellence and innovation in management. A leader in the broadcasting of Quality Culture, BID recognizes those companies and organizations which lead the most important activities in the business world, and is considered the founding organization in the broadcasting of the Culture of Quality, Excellence and Innovation in 179 countries.
The trophy symbolizes a pledge to the principles of Quality Culture. The QC100 Total Quality Management Model, together with the Quality Mix program, media coverage of the convention and its impact on the community and business sector, create an unmatched platform for continuous improvement within the organization and awareness of the achievements of the company at an international level.
Awards are given only to those who are committed to improving their Quality Culture based on the principles of the QC100 Total Quality Management Model. Candidates are proposed by the leaders of previously awarded companies who they consider worthy of the award. Especially meritorious candidates may also be nominated. The International BID Quality Award Selection Committee then chooses the winning companies who will receive the award in New York, Paris, Geneva, Frankfurt, Madrid and London.