Sorok Uni, KOICA, Human Asia bridge the digital literacy gap in Occidental Mindoro
True to its vision of A PHILIPPINES WITHOUT FORGOTTEN NEIGHBORS, Sorok Uni Foundation reached out to more Filipinos in the town of Sablayan, province of Occidental Mindoro.
Together with Human Asia (South Korea) and funded by Korea International Cooperation Association (KOICA), a project entitled “Mitigating Digital Divide in the Ethnic Minority Mangyan” was launched on September 2, 2021 at Inawapanaynep Elementary School, a public school for Alangan Mangyans. The three organizations have initially chosen students in Grades 5 and 6 to be provided with tablets and rovers, in which the learning modules have been preinstalled and can be easily accessed even without internet connection. This was provided by PCI Tech Center, an emerging leader in digital education in the Philippines, as well as in partnership with the Department of Education. The students who were issued tablets will no longer need to use the printed modules for learning. The tablets will also enable them to study interactively with their teachers and other students. Prior to the turnover of the tablets, KOICA, Human Asia, and Sorok Uni have also provided the community’s teachers and the parents with a two-day workshop last August 31 and September 1, 2021, which tackled the issues on digital literacy and the learning management system developed by PCI Tech Center. The said workshop was also conducted by PCI Tech Center.
The “Mitigating the Digital Divide Project” will run for three years, which should see an increase in the number of students and schools that would be catered to every year, largely depending on the success of the previous school year. Sorok Uni, as the implementing body, has engaged not only the teachers and the students of the school but even the parents themselves. A series of workshops and projects are continuously being designed and developed to cater to the changing needs of the community of Alangan Mangyans, as they have also been severly affected by the social systems’ disruptions brought about by the pandemic. The usual challenges that the Alangan Mangyans face everyday include a two-hour to seven-hour walk to their school, adult illiteracy, and lack of learning resources–all of which have been magnified by the pandemic.
The community has stated that their dream to produce more professionals from their communities and tribe have become harder to reach. Thus, Sorok Uni Foundation is taking steps to help them make this dream come true. The foundation has already reached out to possible partners to this endeavor such as the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP), the Department of Education (DepEd), Brgy San Agustin, the Sangguniang Bayan, and Municipality of Sablayan, in the province of Occidental Mindoro.
Apart from the project on digital literacy, Sorok Uni is also building a dormitory together with the Municipal government of Sablayan and the office of the Governor of Occidental Mindoro, which will house fifty (50) students, majority of which walk two to seven hours just to go to school. It’s ground-breaking and inauguration were also held last September 2, 2021.
The turn-over of tablets, launching of the digital literacy project and the groundbreaking ceremony for the dormitory were attended by stakeholders from the Provincial Office of Occidental Mindoro, the Municipality of Sablayan represented by Vice-Mayor Bong Marquez and Hon. Ruben Aldaba – IPMR, the Department of Education represented by Dr. Brigida Nicor -IP Coordinator Sablayan North District, Brgy. San Agustin represented by Hon. Brgy. Captain Yolanda Patingan, Inawapanaynep Elementary School represented by its school head, Mr. Elmer Advincula, all the teachers and the Akingan (fathers) and Bingans (mothers) from Sitio Calamansian, Kimali and other nearby sub-tribes and Sorok Uni Foundation, represented by its Executive Director, April Castillo and its Chairman, Dr. Jae J. Jang.
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