Young innovators from the Philippines’ top universities have come up with solutions to easing the challenges of e-learning among fellow students from low-income families.
With Smart Communications’ Innovation Generation grants programs, students from Ateneo de Manila University, Ateneo de Zamboanga University, Batangas State University, University of Cebu–Main, and Xavier University–Ateneo de Cagayan impressed their peers and mentors with innovative ideas ranging from donation platforms to virtual computer labs during the Demo Day.
Aware of the perils teachers face when they physically distribute learning materials amid the pandemic, Team Ateneo De Manila created a near-cloud system that assists them to distribute the materials without having to visit to leave their homes. The system can be installed at distribution hotspots like neighborhood sari-sari stores, barangay halls, and schools.
“The near-cloud system is a file-sharing tool which contains open-source platforms for the distribution of educational materials. This project can bring learning materials to students with little to no internet, especially those living in remote places,” described Mikaella Salud.
Team Ateneo De Zamboanga University launched a donation website called “Gratuity” that bridges the gap between donors and beneficiaries.
“Gratuity is for students who need school supplies, learning materials, and even tuition assistance. We amplify their call for help and connect them with generous donors,” explained Ayesha Tulete. “Gratuity is also perfect for campaign organizers who are helping the youth but don’t have the platform to mount their initiatives.”
Batangas State University’s “JUAN LOAD-i” online donation platform is a convenient and clear way to help fellow “Juans” in need of cash, connectivity, and devices for e-learning.
According to Jads Limuel Dana, their project was inspired by the Junior Institute of Electronics and Communications Engineers of the Philippines (JIECEP) – Batangas State University chapter, which has been providing aid to fellow students “struggling to cope with the disruption in education.” The team also has plans to endorse ‘JUAN LOAD-i’ to the JIECEP and develop it further to reach the university’s satellite campuses.
Participants from Xavier University focused on the need of their fellow engineering students for powerful computers to complete their requirements. They built ‘QNTM’, a virtual computer lab that lets their schoolmates run software on less powerful devices.
“We set up a cloud-based computing system that enables students to write codes and develop programs even on their mobile phones or basic computers. We decided to push for this project because many of our fellow engineering students do not have the software or the hardware needed to run resource-hungry applications,” said Bea Esclamado.
Meanwhile, innovators from the University of Cebu–Main focused on community-centric solutions through “BGY4ALL,” a hyperlocal mobile application that helps communities distribute assistance packages to residents with the use of QR codes.
“We have heard of citizens complaining about not receiving the promised aid even if they are qualified beneficiaries. Then we saw how disorganized the distribution was in some areas. We thought, maybe we could create an app that will help local officials streamline the process and make the distribution of assistance more efficient and safer,” said Russel Dulce.
The team notes that BGY4ALL enables local officials to send out important announcements and automatically updates the list of beneficiaries with the assistance they have received.
The five teams joined participants from 11 other SWEEP partner schools at the recent Smart Prepaid Innovation Generation. Under the program, the participants went through five months of lectures and more than 70 intense one-on-one mentorship sessions with movers and shakers from the technology space and startup ecosystem.
By aiming to harness the creativity and passion of the youth for technology, the small grants program challenges the current generation to develop technology-enabled, simple solutions to help their communities adapt to the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.