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  • Writer's pictureTrixie Ginete

Awareness Talks: A CSR 2122 Recap

CSR 2122: Gamechanger recently concluded its events yesterday, November 26, 2021. As one of Ateneo ACTM’s flagship projects, the event aimed to put the advocacy of bridging the digital divide at the forefront and provide tangible aid to improve online learning in the country through webinars and a fundraiser.

Last November 22 to 23, 2021, the event held its Awareness Talks with topics such as The Digital Divide in the Context of Social Welfare and Development: the Childhope Philippines Experience and Current Efforts in Bridging the Digital Divide and What Else We Can Do. These talks were led by none other than Dr. Herbert “Harvey” Quilon Carpio, the Executive Director for Childhope Philippines Foundation, Inc., and Undersecretary Philip “Boyet” Dy, the Chief of Staff for the Vice President of the Philippines.

Photos courtesy of the CSR 2122: Gamechanger team

In his talk last Monday, Dr. Harvey began by introducing Childhope Philippines, an accredited social welfare agency by the DSWD working to promote and protect the rights of children, particularly children in street situations. He also highlighted how the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic further widened the gap between those in the upper margins of society who have access to the necessary tools to aid in better learning and the children in the outskirts that have limited to no access to these technologies at all.

Photo taken from Dr. Harvey's presentation deck

“With the new normal in education gearing towards online learning, the right to education of these vulnerable groups need to be highlighted and put at the forefront.”

As the country continues to shift towards new education practices, Dr. Harvey emphasized the importance of providing psychosocial support to the vulnerable sectors of society, apart from supplying the necessary infrastructure and equipment to improve the quality of their education in this new normal. Although there will definitely be more challenges ahead, Dr. Harvey calls for us to always challenge the status quo; never be complacent, and continue to innovate and be dynamic. He also reminded our gamechangers not to be afraid to feel and be affected by different issues, as this is what drives us to take action in the pursuit of giving the underserved a fair chance at a better future.

The following day, Usec. Philip Dy took us deeper into the conversation by sharing with us the different initiatives that the Office of the Vice President has done to address the issue of the digital divide, especially during the pandemic. He began his talk by telling us a story about Magsaysay Elementary School in Hinoba-an, a remote town in Negros Occidental which takes roughly a 2-hour motorcycle drive over rugged terrains to get to. His story about the struggles encountered in transporting construction materials on the motorcycles just to get to the school and finish building the classrooms is representative of the situation of a lot of government schools in the country. It puts into perspective the gravity of the problems faced by many schools in adjusting to the new mode of learning brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo taken from Usec. Dy's presentation deck

“How can we make sure that learning that education can still happen despite the heightened challenges that were brought about by the pandemic?”

The announcement of the imposition of blended learning brought anxiety to a lot of students, parents, and teachers alike, many of them reaching out to the OVP for aid as they lack the resources to conduct and participate in online learning. By partnering with private sectors and civil society organization partners, the OVP was able to launch a four-fold initiative that aided not only the students in need of the necessary connection and equipment for their online learning but also the teachers as this entire setup was also completely new and unfamiliar to many of them.

Usec. Dy ended his talk by stressing that “All the pandemic did was to highlight the fact that the digital divide is a real issue in the country, especially in the education sector”. The challenges encountered by many Filipinos in the online learning setup call attention to the urgent need for digitization to ensure that all schools, both private and public schools, and students are well-prepared for the online mode of instruction in the new normal.

Both Dr. Harvey and Usec. Dy mentioned the importance of partnership and collaboration in pursuit of sustainable social development. By working together, each of our small, individual steps helps form a big leap towards a better future. As Dr. Harvey imparted as he sent us on our own journeys in helping bridge the divide caused by the unequal access to information and technology,

“There is no small contribution when it comes to service for the marginalized”.


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