Out-of-school youth in under-served communities will now be given the opportunity to hone their skills in information technology and use their knowledge to help improve their lives.
In a joint effort to help alleviate poverty through information technology, Ayala Corporation and Mitsubishi Corporation launched the country’s first Internet Learning Kiosk (iLinK) facility at ERDA Tech, a vocational secondary school in Pandacan, Manila, on July 9. Ayala Corporation executive managing director Fernando Zobel de Ayala and Mitsubishi Corporation general manager on environmental and social responsibility Gen Kagayama joined ERDA Tech president Fr. Pierre Tritz, project partners, students, and community beneficiaries to celebrate the event.
The iLinK project aims to develop the ICT competencies of Filipinos, especially those who cannot afford access to these technologies. Explained Zobel: “With the iLinK project, we hope to make the power of information technology available to many so that it can be harnessed and used as a positive catalyst for change. Students and other members of this community gain the ability to make a difference for themselves and their families.”
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who witnessed the signing of the memorandum of understanding on iLinK between Zobel and Mitsubishi Corporation chairman Minoru Makihara in Japan last year, had expressed her gratitude for the support to the government’s policies and programs in information and communications technology (ICT).
Joint social responsibility project
iLinK is part of the continuing partnership that Ayala Corporation and Mitsubishi Corporation are undertaking to improve education for the poor. The two companies previously worked together for the CISCO Networking Academy Program at the Laguna College of Arts and Trades and facilitated the donation of the Japanese government for the La Mesa Reforestation Project. Ayala Corporation and Mitsubishi Corporation have been strategic partners for the past 28 years and have taken collaborative efforts in pursuing growth opportunities.
Said Kagayama: “I sincerely hope that this project will make a worthy contribution towards serving the ICT needs of the students at ERDA Tech and the neighboring community as well. I firmly believe in the great potential of the Philippines to become an active participant in the New ICT Economy.”
Aside from providing an Internet laboratory to select public high schools, iLinK will help build the schools’ capacity to provide quality ICT training not only to its students and teachers but also to under-served sectors of the local community. iLinK will train out-of-school youth, unemployed adults, small entrepreneurs, cooperatives, farmers and fisherfolk in the use of technologies relevant to their needs.
Over 400 students, teachers and out-of-school youth have benefited from the iLinK facility at ERDA Tech since it opened in December 2001. In April, iLinK began training and assisting in the employment of former streetchildren and community youth under the school’s PALIHAN (Palitan ng Husay at Sanayan) Project.
At the launch, a visibly pleased Fr. Tritz expressed his gratitude for the donation. He observed: “The objectives of iLinK are very much in line with ERDA Tech’s vision of becoming a center of innovative and quality education for socially disadvantaged youth. ERDA Tech is truly blessed to be a partner of this project.”
The iLinK project is further enhanced through partnerships. Globe Telecom is providing ERDA Tech free Internet access through Globenet for one year. iLinK will also implement technical programs initiated by AFI with partner schools and companies such as the Cisco Networking Academy Program, Center for Technical Training Excellence, and e-Skills Training.
Other components of the iLinK project include curriculum development, financial assistance, a directory of educational websites, and acquisition or development of friendly software for cooperatives and farmers’ groups.
Meanwhile, another iLinK facility has been established at Florencio Urot Memorial National High School, a day and night school in Cebu City. Three more iLinK facilities will be set up in Cagayan de Oro City, Metro Manila, and Batangas this year.