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Historical Background and Program Development

The advent of RA 9163 otherwise known as the National Service Training Program Law mandated all higher education institution (HEIs) to implement the National Service Training Program or NSTP as part of the curricular offerings and as a requirement for Baccalaureate degree with each student affected to earn the necessary 6 units or 3 units per semester. The implementation began in 2002.

Under the direct guidance of the Rector and President, the then Center for Research and Extension Services (CRES) took charge of the NSTP modules and curricular development through its volunteer facilitators who were then involved in different community programs and project engagements of the University. The varied disciplines and community experiences of the volunteer facilitators greatly helped in developing the framework, orientation, and direction of AQ NSTP which when translated into training modules both in classroom discussions and in community activities had considerable impacts and had seen potential benefits to the students, facilitators, University community, partner communities and other program stakeholders.

AQ NSTP while remaining faithful to the suggested curricular program of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) dared to go beyond simple or traditional concepts of community service into exploring venues and other possibilities in order to gain the optimum benefit which may be derived from the NSTP. Hence, fully cognizant of the contextual situation of the region and the communities, the challenges posed by the current educational system in the country, and guided by the University's vision, mission and goals, AQ NSTP transcended into AQ Community Service Training Program (AQ CSTP), a truly Aquinian community service training program.

AQ CSTP is now the AQ program for increasing the students' awareness of community realities, motivating them to be of service to the communities, and enhancing their knowledge and skills for delivering necessary services through theoretical discussions and actual conduct. It dared to discuss relevant and recent issues necessary in developing critical thinking among the students. It also successfully employed participatory and evocative learning methodologies and created venues for students' and community members' creative expressions of their ideas, issues and concerns. Thus, the students' and community members' capacities to be creative, responsive and functional are honed and recognized in AQ CSTP.

Last November 24, 2007, AQ CSTP initiated and hosted an initial regional consultation meeting on the challenges and opportunities in the implementation of CWTS and LTS in Bikol. It was attended by NSTP Coordinators and Directors representing 8 private schools mostly Catholic institutions from 3 provinces of Bikol. NSTP - Bicol Consortium of Private Institutions or NSTP-BCPI was born on that day with AQ CSTP serving as secretariat.

AQ CSTP also contributed much in the success of the Anduyog AQ: Tabang sa Tugang (TasaTu) through its staff who manned the center and been in the forefronts of documentation works and actual delivery of services to the affected communities. It also facilitated stress debriefing sessions in its classes and motivated NSTP students to contribute in the institutions on-going relief and rehabilitation efforts. The students initiated the gathering and delivery of relief goods, rebuilding of houses and community centers, visited the families and relatives of AQ students who perished in the disaster, and other community service projects and programs particularly in areas which they had been in contact with during the first semester.

AQ CSTP gained lessons from its experiences. It recognizes its strengths and weaknesses while open to its potentials and being critical of the challenges. With the support of other units within the division, it hopes to contribute further in the formation of the members of AQ community and partner communities, promotion of culture and the arts, and in the discussion, development and concretization of its advocacy programs and community extension activities.

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