British Council Philippines recently organized a seminar series entitled "Digital Technology for Social Change," to be rolled out in five major cities across the country. Its primary aim is to explore the tremendous potential of new/digital/social media and ICT in driving social change, especially among the youth and in the context of developing countries like the Philippines. Leveraged properly, ICT is a powerful tool for promoting social responsibility; it provides great potential for facilitating civic engagement and democratic participation. The seminars hope to be platform for sharing good practices, discussing issues, and finding solutions on how the youth and our new leaders can build their digital media competencies as they create a greater impact on the world.
The pilot seminar happened in De La Salle - College of St. Benilde last January 26. For the second leg, British Council Philippines went to Davao, the biggest and most developed city in the south, for the seminar that was held last February 4 in Ateneo de Davao University. Applications were opened two weeks prior for youth aged 18-25 who are actively involved in community development. Representatives from minority groups were encouraged, while interested participants who were over 25 years old were accepted as "observers."
The speakers for the Davao leg were Jay Jaboneta of the Yellow Boat project, which started through a single Facebook status and was later able to provide boats for Filipino children who used to swim to school; Eric Su of PicLyf, a homegrown photo-sharing platform; Shaina Tantuito of JeepneED, an education project using the jeepney, the most common form of transportation in the Philippines; and yours truly. I talked about ICT4Gov and Global Changemakers.
The first half of my presentation was dedicated to ICT4Gov, which served to put the "ICT for social change" agenda to an international and bigger context. By the time I took the stage, everyone knew of the power of Facebook and had ideas on how a single photo or status update could snowball into something that would spark a better world. But how about using other technologies like your mobile phones and our call centers? How about demanding the government to help us by providing better public services? I then introduced ICT4Gov products such as Participatory Budgeting and Open 311, which was especially relevant in the Philippine context as the Philippines is now the "call center capital" of the world, recently overtaking India in the number of citizens employed as call center agents. [source]
Some of the participants, who were mostly students and young participants, even work or used to work as call center agents.
With ICT4Gov and the rest of the speakers providing the digital media landscape, it was the perfect opportunity for me to do my pilot "Transparency Talks," my WBI CAP (Community Action Project) with my Paraguayan friend and fellow GYAC member David Riveros Garcia. The WBI CAPs are a joint project by the British Council Global Changemakers (GCM) and the World Bank Institute.
Using the GCM Toolkit, I talked of how young people can do something against corruption and towards transparency, especially with the use of ICT and drawing from initiatives like Checkmyschool, IPaidABribe, Universidad Coherente, and certainly, ICT4Gov. The Paraguayan counterpart of the project will commence its workshops and school visits in March.
The participants later gathered in groups to discuss their insights, experiences, and how they plan to apply what they've learned during the day.
Certificates were given at the end of the program.
Three weeks later, GYAC and ICT4Gov went north to the "summer capital of the Philippines," Baguio City, for the penultimate leg of the seminar series.