History of Night Secondary School (NSS)
St. Scholastica’s College (SSC) was founded on December 3, 1906 by five (5) German Sisters headed by Sister Ferdinanda Hoelzer, OSB. In a small residential house in Tondo, the Sisters started their educational apostolate with six (6) paying students and fifty (50) in free section. The Sisters labored to enable students to learn and imbibe the Benedictine ideals of “Ora et Labora”, or prayer and work. As they continued the mission of providing education to the poor but deserving children, a free elementary school was put up when the Sisters moved to Leon Guinto Street, its present site. The said free school continued until such time the Sisters no longer saw its need due to the government taking more active role in fulfilling its constitutional mandate of providing primary education. With the opening of more public elementary schools, the Sisters saw their new role – that of providing additional education and training beyond grade school to those who needed it.
Towards the end of the decade of the sixties. The Manila Community of the Missionary Benedictine Sisters of St. Scholastica’s College saw the need to extend free secondary education to young women who have been forced to leave school due to economic reasons. At that time, the sisters were in the process of closing the free school (elementary). Thus, opening of a free terminal-vocational program was seen as a welcome move in terms of sisters continuing their educational apostolate.
Starting in the latter part of 1970 August, the school’s adult education program saw an initial enrollment of sixteen (16) students. These students were all helpers working in the sister’s community. Within the same month, 11 August 1970, permit (Permit No. 412, s. 70) to open the program was granted by then Bureau of Private Schools. Among the program’s first teachers were Sr. Editha Wydorski, OSB (English Composition and Literature, Religion and Character Education), Sr. Christophora Rettinger, OSB (Arithmetic), Sr. Guadalupe Valdes, OSB (Filipino), Sr Roberta Ilumin, OSB (Filipino), Sr. Monica Tomista, OSB (Basic Foods) and Ms. Prudentia Mapa (Vocational Education). The following school year (1970-71), applications for incoming freshwomen were opened to helpers of alumnae, teachers, school employees and students who reside near the school. Age requirement then was seventeen (17) years old. Supervising the program in its earlier years was Sr. M. Simeona Ricalde, OSB. She followed by Ms. Anita Cariaga (SY 1972-1973 to 1975-1976). Mrs. Josefina Abarquez eventually took over and served as Principal for ten (10) years (school years 1976-1977 to 1985-1986).
The adult education program or night secondary course was envisioned by the sisters as five-year “free” terminal-vocational program for poor girl/women who were forced to stop their schooling due to financial constraints. Its initial purpose and objective was “to help poor young women and adults, especially household helps, gain better education in life as well as improve in or learn a vocation for a better and more productive work or employment” (SSC’s NSS Records). The program initially catered and generally still caters to the “manangs” working in the school, household helps of alumnae and faculty, less privileged girls/women residing in the vicinity of the school and/or working girls/women. No tuition payment was required although students gave donations (any amount they can afford). This practice still holds true today. The pool of teachers were and continue to be made up of sisters, day teachers/office personnel and those coming from the outside. Seen more as volunteer or outreach work, an honorarium rather than compensation for teaching was and still is provided by the Sisters of the Manila Community. It is only the Principal who directly receives her salary from the school.
In its first two years of operations, the night secondary program’s curriculum served to prepare students for future vocational training. In 1973, the then Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports (MECS) issued Department Order No. 20, s. 1973 which instructed schools operating secondary school night classes to implement the Revised Secondary School Education Program. Upon the implementation of this Department Order, the terminal-vocational character of the NSS was supposed to have ended. However, the NSS Principal then, Mrs. Josefina Abarquez, continued operating the NSS as a vocational-terminal program. Even if CAT and YDT were required offerings, an appeal was made yearly for NSS students to be exempt from it due to the nature of their work (i.e., mostly domestic helpers) which did not allow them to come for training on Saturdays and Sundays. However, in 1981 September, Dr. Mariano V. Difuntorum, Chiefs of MECS’s Secondary Education Division, wrote a letter to Mrs. Josefina Abarquez instructing her of the following: a) that the first year students enrolled in school year 1981-1982 should follow the new 5-year night school curriculum as stipulated in Regional Memorandum No. 103, s. 1981); b) that Practical Arts is required subject in the new curriculum and cannot be offset by electives in Practical Arts; and c) YDT and CAT are required subjects and CAT 1 is a requirement for graduation. On 18 August 1986, MECS Director Modesta G. Boquiren, sent a letter to then SSC President Sr. Ballarmine Bernas, OSB advising her that “there is no terminal-vocational curriculum since 1973-1974 upon the implementation of the Revised Secondary Education Program, 1973 as announced in Department Order No. 20, s. 1973”.
After the retirement of Mrs. Abarquez, a new Principal was appointed in the person of Ms. Lirio Esguerra. The MECS directive of removing the terminal-vocational nature of NSS eventually led to its being seen and run as a night school offering secondary education. This somehow was inevitable because the secondary curriculum of the NSS was no different from that of the day high school. The only difference was the length of time for completion. With this change in direction, the profile of students likewise changed through the years. Where the criteria of a minimum age requirement of seventeen (17) and that students must be employed were once used in admitting students, students younger than 17 and some unemployed ones were eventually accepted. Since students also perceived themselves as finishing high school, the desire to continue on to College could not be dampened. Thus, in school year 1986-1987 a request was made by graduating NSS students to the MECS for them to take the National College Entrance Examination (NCEE). With MECS’ approval, it became a practice for interested NSS seniors and eventually all seniors to take the then NCEE and now the National Secondary Assessment Test (NSAT).
Today, the NSS continues to serve as an avenue for the fulfillment of the educational apostolate of the Benedictine sisters. With an initial enrollment of sixteen (16) students when it opened its doors in 1970, it has now witnessed the graduation of hundreds of students and are now successful in their own field.
Night Secondary School envisions graduates who are technically competent, well-balanced, Christ-centered girls and women equipped with quality Scholastican education who emulate simplicity of lifestyle, compassion and purpose-driven life and are ready for gainful employment or pursuit of further studies.
The Night Secondary School provides five years secondary education with vocational, technical, hands-on training to girls and women who are economically-challenged and unable to pursue secondary education.
To fulfill its mission-vision NSS shall:
1. Equip students with adequate communication and technical skills;
2. Ensure that curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular programs develop a social-orientation and critical awareness of present realities;
3. Facilitate formation of persons leading to a well-balanced individual;
4. Create conditions to experience genuine care for the environment; and
5. Organize activities to enhance the understanding and living out the Benedictine values.