18 April 2006
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Cisco Systems have said they are aiming to expand their information technology volunteer program in the Philippines after its successfull launch last year.
The UN Volunteers (UNV), which is administered by the UNDP, partnered with Cisco Philippines in July 2005 to train teachers in public schools on essential computer skills.
UNV and Cisco worked with the Mindanao State University and the non-government organization Growth Equity for Mindanao to launch the programme, which has already benefited eight schools.
Cisco Philippines Area Manager Eric Sulit said they are looking for new partners to identify and connect public high schools in rural areas, while looking for more volunteers from the graduates of the Cisco Networking Academy Program (CNAP).
Sulit said the partners could be private businesses that previously provided computers and connectivity to schools. He said Cisco would provide the content as well as the volunteers to conduct training for students and teachers in recipient schools.
“Aside from the equipment, there should be a corresponding volunteer equivalent who could deal with the teachers and students on basic computer literacy,” Sulit said.
UN Volunteer and ICT Specialist Juan Huerta Brogeras said the UNV has been lending volunteers to Philippine institutions for various activities, including ICT training. He said more volunteers were needed to help educational institutions bring up their level of knowledge about ICT.
Brogeras said that the UNV-Cisco program started out with two volunteers but has grown to 10 volunteers.
“There’s still a lot to do to bridge the digital divide, even in the Philippines. By bringing Filipinos to the era of ICT, they would be able to see more opportunities and improve their lives through technology,” Brogeras said.