We invite your valued feedbacks and inputs to enhance this living document to ensure that it stays relevant and beneficial to ASEAN youth and community at large.
The workshop will especially be useful and enlightening for those who are directly involved in community and industry engagement within their respective institutions, and are eager to expand their knowledge at a regional level.
It will be held on the 12th of June 2013 (Wednesday) from 8:30 am to 1:00pm at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Bangi Campus.
The workshop encompasses three sessions, detailed below:
1) Sharing Best Practices at OECD, ASEAN and Institutional Levels
a) Learning from University Community Engagement and Industry Collaboration across OECD member countries
by Jaana PUUKKA, Senior Policy Fellow, Conseils sans Frontiers, and Independent Higher Education Strategy Consultant
b) Best Practices and Models of Community Engagement Across ASEAN
by Prof. Dr. Saran Kaur Gill, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Industry and Community Partnerships & Executive Director of AsiaEngage (ATNEU, AUN USR&S and AYVP), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
c) Community Engaged Research in Thailand
by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Avorn Opatpatanakit, Assistant President for Research and Academic Service Affairs, Chiang Mai University
2) Leading Community Engagement at Institutional Level
by Prof. Dr. Saran Kaur Gill, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Industry and Community Partnerships & Executive Director of AsiaEngage (ATNEU, AUN USR&S and AYVP), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
Participants will also have the option to join in a Group Discussion to Develop Concrete Plans for ASEAN which will commence on the same day from 2:15PM to 5:00PM. By attending this group discussion, you will be working alongside AUN USR&S@AsiaEngage’s steering committee members to develop a plan that will move community and industry engagement in ASEAN, while being able to gain access to its outcomes once finalised. There will be six groups, designed to specifically address issues or areas pertinent to this plan:
1) Governance Systems and Structures to Institutionalise Industry and Community Engagement across ASEAN universities
2) Community Engaged Research
3) Community-Integrated Teaching and Learning
4) Development of Criteria for selection of Community Engagement experts across ASEAN for the different areas of community-engaged research, teaching and learning and service
5) Development of Criteria for Regional Awards for AUN USR&S@AsiaEngage
6) 6. Space and Visibility for Community and Industry Engagement in Academic Promotional Criteria
Each institution may send one (1) representative to attend the workshop detailed above, at RM500 each. Only 25 seats are available for this workshop. Bookings and payment should be made by the 31st of May 2013 in order to secure a seat. Seats for the workshop will be given on a first come, first served basis. You should also indicate your interest to join in the group discussion after the workshop if you would like to do so.
Payment details are as below.
Account Name: Bendahari UKM
Account No: 1218-0010075-05-3
Bank Name: CIMB Bank Berhad
Bank Address: Wisma Unikeb, Cawangan UKM, Bangi, Selangor, 43600 UKM, Bangi
Swift Code: CIBB MYKL
Branch Code: 1218
Any queries regarding the workshop can be made directly to the secretariat by emailing us at email@example.com or call at 03-8921 4922.
Download the agenda for the workshop here.]]>
Led by UKM’s Faculty of Science and Technology with the support of the Office of Industry and Community Partnerships, the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) and the Institute for Environment and Development(LESTARI UKM), this programme focuses on environmental education of the younger generation, one of the important first steps towards preservation of our environment.
Named SEE Nature (Seek, Educate and Embrace Nature), the 20-day programme took place at the Kuala Selangor Nature Park, involving 20 multi-disciplinary student volunteers from UKM’s Friends of the Garden Club. With the input of MNS, an NGO that is directly involved in conservation and awareness, two modules-biodiversity assessment and environmental education outreach were prepared. The aim of the programme was to expose the participants to observatory skills and field work techniques of identifying selected species in their natural habitat, and the concept of environmental education and nature interpretation. Through this programme, a successful educational module was developed that would enable the students to become effective facilitators who would be able to educate young school-going children and members of the public on the natural environment in the next phase of the project.
The Kuala Selangor Nature Park was once marked to be bulldozed to make way for a golf course. However, in 1987, MNS stepped in to protect this natural habitat, which has since become a sanctuary to many species of flora and fauna. The park is an ideal venue for the programme, as it hosts approximately 156 bird species, 57 of which are migratory. It is also famous for its high population of the firefly beetle, a nocturnal luminous insect that thrives on the abundant mangrove trees in the park that has enabled it to become a tourist destination.
Championed by the Faculty of Science and Technology’s Forest Reserve Coordinator, Dr. Wan Juliana Wan Ahmad, the programme is divided into two modules. The first module focuses on research whereby the students are trained to monitor the daily habits of birds and fireflies within their natural ecosystem at the park. Outcomes from this research are then presented at the end of the programme. The second module focuses on the development of a specific educational module which will be used to educate the community, tourists as well as school students to appreciate and conserve the natural environment.
Enhancing the Learning Experience
Under the programme, the students were trained by the MNS facilitators to identify and monitor the many species of birds at the park. While observing the birds, these students would record valuable information about them which would then be published as a catalogue and made available to members of the public. Recording the information is also essential to tracking down the number and types of species of birds at the park, which in turn, is essential in conservation and preservation efforts.
The programme has also greatly increased the students’ knowledge on the environment which can then be applied to their own fields of study. At night, the students were tasked to observe the fireflies in the park area. Despite being an attraction for tourists in Kuala Selangor, the fireflies constantly face threats from development that will lead to the destruction of their breeding grounds. The park area however, is protected, allowing the students to study the fireflies within their own habitat and natural environment.
During the programme, the students learnt about the main species of fireflies that can be found at the Kuala Selangor Nature Park, the Colophotia and the Diaphanes, and how to identify the males and females of the species and to recognise their daily habits. Information recorded during the course of the programme will then be used in efforts to conserve the insects in Kuala Selangor.
Usually accustomed to the confines of their air-conditioned classrooms, the students had to quickly get used to walking across the vast park of almost four square kilometres while observing the birds and the fireflies. The experience has greatly enhanced the students’ generic competencies such as leadership, teamwork, communication ability and decision-making skills through experiential learning and volunteerism, and has since bolstered their enthusiasm and passion for conservation of the natural environment.
Goals for the Future
As a first step towards integrating community engagement and volunteerism into the co-curriculum, the students involved in this inaugural programme have successfully gained co-curricular credits through UKM’s Student Learning Contract Programme. The Student Learning Contract Programme was launched in 2010 with the aim of developing well-rounded graduates through self-driven activities that will achieve 8 identified learning outcomes. These include communication skills, information management skills, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, all of which would have been addressed during the programme.
The partnership between the University and MNS will be further strengthened in the future, as experts from MNS will sit on the Faculty’s advisory board to assist in reviewing the curriculum to embed environmental outcomes, beginning with the Faculty of Science and Technology. Long term goals involve securing sustainable funding and developing mechanisms to integrate this programme into the curriculum, and eventually lead to UKM offering elective courses on conservation and the natural environment that will be available to students from all faculties.]]>
IMU holds regular programmes every 3 to 4 months, with one major programme every year and several smaller programmes, all planned and executed by a student committee.
More information regarding the programme can be found on their website.
Second place winner for the Macjannet Prize went to The Programa Social (PROSOFI) from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana – Bogotá in Colombia, receiving $5,000 to support their work in the community of Gran Yomasa-Bolonia. The program, initiated by the Engineering Faculty focuses on six areas: Work and Business Competition; Sanitation and Sustainable Development; Public Infrastructure; Housing and Community Development; Comprehensive Social Development; Health and Coexistence; and Participatory Management. Eventually the aim is to develop multiple projects and to position PROSOFI as a flagship program and a reference for other universities on both a national and international level.
This year’s third place winner, receiving $2,500, is the Programa de intervención sanitaria en poblaciones vulnerables de la provincia de Córdoba (Health Intervention Program for Vulnerable Populations) at the Universidad Católica de Córdoba in Argentina which aims to improve the quality of life of vulnerable populations with structural deficiencies that affect the high incidence and prevalence of communicable diseases and to implement health education as a means for generating behavior change at the individual, family and community. The interdisciplinary program brings together students and faculty members from three academic disciplines: biochemistry, pharmacy and veterinary medicine. Initially implemented in Costa del Rio Pinto, the program is now being replicated in Cabildo.
Lastly, two honorable mentions were awarded to the Service Learning Research Scheme (SLRS) at Lingnan University in Hong Kong and the Humnawa program at Beaconhouse National University in Pakistan.
This year, 61 nominations from 48 universities in 22 countries around the world were received for the MacJannet Prize. The members of the Selection Committee were highly impressed by the quality and scope of all of the programs:
Please visit the Talloires Network website to find out more information about this year’s winners, as well as the other finalists, and keep an eye out for next year’s MacJannet Prize competition.
During her tour, Prof. Dato’ Dr. Saran promoted high impact community engagement projects and programmes that are being carried out in ASEAN and Asia that Australia can take lessons from while also learning from the Australian standpoint.
During the tour, Prof. Dato’ Dr. Saran reiterated that industry and community engagement is not new in many universities. “But what is new are efforts to coordinate and systematize and professionalise this area as compared to the traditional mainstays of research and innovation and academic and student affairs. This will incorporate issues pertinent for the institutionalization, the implementation, the monitoring and review to ensure quality, the evaluation of impact, the recognition and promotion criteria and the necessary interventions needed in terms of capacity building.”
This was the main message articulated in both of her presentations, which were titled “Asian Perspective on Engagement: Highlighting models and best-practice” and “Leading Community Engagement at An Institutional Level.” She also reiterated UKM’s commitment in regional university-community-industry engagement, and its ultimate power in transforming not only higher education, but communities as well.
Below is a testimony of the impact the sessions have made with AsiaEngage’s Australian counterparts and how it further solidified their commitment towards meaningful university-community-industry engagement;
Furthering the engagement agenda
Flinders University’s key strategic priority of ‘building supportive communities’ has been underscored with the University’s hosting of its fourth visiting scholar, Professor Saran Kaur Gill, under Engagement Australia’s (EA) 2013 Visiting Scholars and Experts program.
The EA program builds engagement depth, skills and capacity while increasing knowledge and understanding around specific and diverse areas of scholarship and practice. The program helps staff learn from engagement experiences, theories, practices from other parts of the world as well as providing a forum for exchanging good practises within Australia.
Professor Gill is advancing engagement in Asian higher education in two senior positions; the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Industry & Community Partnerships) at University Kebangsaan Malaysia (The National University of Malaysia – UKM),Executive Director of AsiaEngage where she leads a dynamic and rapidly growing engagement network of universities. AsiaEngage is committed to regional community-industry engagement and its ultimate power in transforming not only higher education, but communities as well.
Ms Penny Crocker, Head of Flinders Southern Knowledge Transfer Partnerships said her office was delighted to facilitate Flinders academics and professional staff with opportunities to hear from, and share experiences with Prof Gill in a series of workshops and one-to-one meetings. ‘This type of professional learning opportunity for staff particularly those involved in community engagement (outreach) and in international roles provides opportunities to learn via exemplar case studies and to have one –to- one conversation about the latest developments in community engagement both in Australia and internationally ”, she said. The workshops and meetings created space and time to learn and share ideas on ‘leading community engagement at an institutional level’ and ‘ASEAN Perspectives on Engagement, highlighting models and best-practices.
Professor Janice Orrell, Adjunct Professor with the School of Education, said Professor Gill’s session and meeting her in person was “an academic highlight moment for me making the time in the workshop well worth spending. This workshop was an interval in my academic life where I had time to profitably reflect on the place of universities in society and on the ethical, moral and practical stance they need to adopt in working and relating with industries and communities. While this was not a new topic for me, I found that Professor Gill’s presentation asked and answered critical and practical questions about the implementation and impact of taking a systematic institutional approach to Universities partnerships that helped me to move forward in my own thinking. Professor Gill’s capacity to move easily from ideology to policy to practice, by illustrating points of integration and alignment is inspiring. Her framework for knowledge driven and outcomes based engagement that is integrated in both the education and research missions of the university is profoundly useful for Flinders”
Article courtesy of Engagement Australia.
Presentations made during the tour can be viewed and downloaded below:
We are recruiting 100 ASEAN youth volunteers between the ages of 18 and 30 who are driven and motivated to help conserve and protect our region from the over-exploitation of natural resources and climate change.
As an ASEAN Youth Eco-Leader you will:
- Kampong Dew Firefly Sanctuary, Perak
- Kuala Selangor Nature Park, Selangor
- Mersing Coastal Communities, Johor
- Setiu Wetlands, Terengganu
The inaugural programme will be for 5 weeks:
The selection will be based on the merits of the individual. The closing date of application will be midnight 31st of May 2013. Only shortlisted volunteers will be notified. The selected participants will be notified after 30th of June 2013.
The programme will provide two way flight tickets, accommodation, 3 meals per day, project orientation and travels during the duration of the project.
- Age 18 to 30 years old
- Citizen of an ASEAN country
- Interested applicants can come from:
How to Apply
Applications for this programme can be sent in 3 modes. Please choose only ONE, so as to avoid duplication.
1) By downloading the form electronically and submitting it via email along with copies of relevant documents to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
2) By going to our online form at www.ayvpform.asiaengage.org and attach all relevant documents where indicated.
3) By printing out the form and filling it up manually and include copies of all relevant documents. You can then post them to the address below:
The AYVP@AsiaEngage Secretariat
Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Industry and Community Partnerships)
Executive Director, AsiaEngage (ATNEU, AUN USR&S and AYVP)
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia,
43600 Bangi, Selangor, MALAYSIA
Tel: +603 8921 4922
Fax: +603 8921 4652
Download the form here.
Like music and art, love of nature is a common language that can transcend political or social boundaries. – Jimmy Carter
The Kondo Rakyat Community Programme is an environmental sustainability effort that intends to develop a love for nature across multiple boundaries. The Kondo Rakyat community brings together academia, industry and an urban low-income community into a joint program for sustainable living.
This project is Universiti Malaya’s contribution to its neighbours in collaboration with Unilever Berhad and Telekom Malaysia Berhad to transform the Kondo Rakyat neighbourhood into an environmentally sustainable living area. The ultimate goal of this project is to develop a model community that can inspire and lead similar communities to live sustainably. The key local community representative for the duration of the programme was En. Yusri Ahmad, Director for the, Joint Management Body of Kondo Rakyat.
The Kondo Rakyat program focuses on four elements: the collection of used cooking oil, the kitchen garden, composting and the green bazaar. The programme has been in place since October 2010.
Coming Together for a Cause
The vision of the UM Environmental Secretariat (UMCARES) is to transform Universiti Malaya into a sustainable campus. However, a truly sustainable institution is also one which inspires others to do the same, while creating the multiplier effect, thereby influencing their surrounding communities. Although located right next to a renowned local public university, there exists a vast difference in the social environmental aspect of the Kondo Rakyat residences with the University stance in sustainability.
This disparity is further emphasized as the Kondo Rakyat is also surrounded by high-rise luxury condominiums. The Kondo Rakyat community is a predominantly low-income neighbourhood of about 15,840 residents in just 5 apartment blocks. In 2001, DBKL allowed the community full independence in managing their premises.
The Kondo Rakyat project brought togetherMalaysia’s oldest university, a typical representative of an urban low-income neighbourhood and lead industry players in a strategic collaboration for the development of sustainable communities. TM Berhad, the largest integrated information and communications group inMalaysiaand Unilever Berhad, a leading supplier of consumer goods, are both committed to the community and are keen to lend relevant expertise to local stakeholders and sustainability projects. For the Kondo Rakyat program, TM Berhad and Unilever Berhad provided financial assistance and expertise, while Universiti Malaya coordinated the effort, monitored its progress and is overseeing its continued development with a view to replicating the model in other similar communities.
The Green Bazaar
The first Kondo Rakyat Green Bazaar was held in May 2011, attracting 60% of the neighbourhood’s residents, as well as nearly 100 non-residents to sell pre-loved goods. . Nearly 1500 visitors were present during the bazaar where eight vendors opened stalls, one of which was reserved entirely for local residents. Reusable items from the community were sold at the bazaar and the income earned was returned to the community. A total of RM1089 was earned in that one session, and the proceeds were given to individuals who were in need within the community through a ‘From Community to Community’ initiative. The Green Bazaar became a regular event, with consistent patronage and income raised – all of the money earned went back to the local community of Kondo Rakyat.
The Kitchen Garden
Miss Jihan Hanani Hassan, a professional organic farmer, engaged for the programme spent a day conducting a capacity-building workshop for the local community which taught them to plant and maintain a garden using organic farming techniques. 56 residents attended the session, and the community were given sweet hybrid corn seeds (Jagung Mutiara), eggplant, cabbage and many other herbs, fruit and vegetables as an initial seed bank to kick-start the programme.
An additional element of income generation is also possible from this component of the program as produce from these gardens could be sold during the Green Bazaar. Also related to a proposed idea (and yet to be implemented) is the concept of ‘1 Rumah, 1 Pokok’ (One Home, One Plant) which brings the neighbourhood greening initiative indoors and into the homes of its residents. It was hoped that with personal involvement at such a level, it would encourage the community to want to have more engagement with greenery and become active participants in the Kitchen Garden program in their open areas.
Composting and the Eco-Enzyme Project
A composting demonstration was conducted during the launch of the Kondo Rakyat project and the local community saw that there was an opportunity to convert garden waste into compost. Yet another entrepreneurial opportunity could come out of this as the compost could either be sold or used in their Kitchen Garden plots.
As a result of the local initiative and request, the Kondo Rakyat project then explored avenues for capacity-building in terms of composting techniques and the establishment of composting facilities such as an anaerobic digester or a garden waste shredder in the apartment grounds. Community consultation as well as advice from experts, sponsors and other parties resulted in a consensus to stick to simple, more manageable methods and thus the group settled on the use of eco-enzymes and simple composting.
Pn Mariam Osman from the environmental NGO, Ecoknights demonstrated the use of eco-enzymes in processing waste; a complex solution produced by fermentation of fresh kitchen waste (fruit and vegetable remains), brown sugar and water. The resultant liquid can be applied to both household and agricultural use. Miss Jihan Hanani Hassan returned for another training session to provide the community with an alternative form of composting using only brown sugar as a fermentation tool, with the resulting product applicable only for agricultural use.
These sessions generated acute interest from the women in the community. Bottles of the product were successfully packaged and sold during Eco Film Fest 2011 organised by Ecoknights (in which UM was the venue partner) and the group is now in the process of continuing and expanding on this enterprise.
Used Cooking Oil Initiative
In order to combat this issue, the community was interested in experimenting with the idea of setting up a systematic system of used cooking oil collection. The idea was also entrepreneurial, with a goal of collecting a large enough amount that can then be sold to a biofeul company which would then convert it into energy. This initiative would therefore not only reduce pollution in surrounding rivers, but
While there were initial teething issues with the logistical aspect of this initiative, the community is now able to collect oil and discussions are in place to have it processed as biodiesel with a view to the community being able to use it and further reduce their environmental impact on the planet.
Community Engagement, Consensus and Entrepreneurship
The collaboration between academia and the community allowed these urban low-income residents access to a pool of experts and a wide knowledge network that has helped to alleviate some of their difficulties and provided them with income-generating opportunities. By the end of 2012, the community was able to run the project with limited facilitation and guidance from the CSR partners. The successful engagement of local women is an especially important aspect of this project, as they now have additional opportunities to contribute to household income and are keen proponents of the initiatives, driving the rest of the community to support the programmes offered.
Initial problems with the used oil collection and composting initiatives were overcome through discussions with the private sector volunteer consultant of UMCARES, Mr BK Sinha of C2C Project Manager Sdn Bhd, and the community has now agreed to focus on the conversion of organic waste into electricity using an anaerobic digestion machine. This then is the next step of this project and bodes well for the environmental sustainability of the community.
The independence and initiative of the Kondo Rakyat community as well as their willingness to come together as a whole for a project such as this is a good indication of community empowerment. Their ability to source for funds for the project also shows a commitment to the improvement of their status quo and a determination to make the project components succeed.
While this project is but a unique case study and on-going one at that – it can be a useful model for University Malaya’s relations with and contributions to its neighbours. The Kondo Rakyat concept can now be replicated in other similar neighbourhoods facing similar circumstances and difficulties. It is through small success stories such as this that the wider community and eventually, the nation can come together for a sustainable future.]]>
Autism is a neurological disorder that affects normal brain function, impacting the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Both children and adults with autism show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interaction and leisure or play activities.
Many individuals suffering from Autism become intellectually disabled when not given the proper attention. It was with this in mind that UKM’s Faculty of Education embarked on the establishment of the Autism Learning Laboratory within its premises dedicated towards giving effective education to children with Autism to enable them to reach their full potential, while serving as a platform for academicians and researchers to observe and study their behaviour and learning style.
Established in 2009 with funding from the University Research Grant, the laboratory has worked hard to design and develop an education module for children with Autism. The laboratory is operated by the University’s Faculty of Education, and has 5 teachers, 2 teaching assistants and 17 students who have been diagnosed with Autism.
One of the laboratory’s main objectives is to study and learn in depth about children with Autism, to enable academicians and researchers to develop effective teaching modules for children with the disorder. As no two autistic children are the same, developing an effective learning module to be implemented to all with the disorder is not easy. With this in mind, the laboratory uses Individual Education Planning (IEP) whereby the needs for each autistic child will be determined through a meeting with the parents.
Although the aims and objectives for each child vary with the implementation of IEP, all students receive some structure through a time table that is applied to all. This includes some physical activity in morning followed by some learning, lunch, rest and then depending on the day, an evening activity of arts and craft, swimming, cooking or gardening.
An IEP meeting is held between the teachers and the parents every 6 months to determine whether the methods that have been used have been effective. The laboratory also applies various learning and teaching techniques such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Picture Exchange Communications (PECs), Discrete Trial Training (DTT), Structured Teaching, Visual Strategies and Behavior Modification, all of which have been proven to contribute greatly to the development of children with Autism.
The laboratory also enables students from the University who are currently pursuing studies in special education to undergo practical training. UKM students are required to attend the laboratory for 2 hours every week to fulfil their credit hours.
The laboratory also serves as an important referral centre for parents and care-givers who are dealing with children with Autism. Staff at the laboratory are able to give support and consultation services for parents and care-givers, so as to create a better environment for children with Autism to learn and play. Apart from that, the laboratory is also active in disseminating information and knowledge on Autism and effective learning techniques to members of the public.
Learning and Teaching about Autism
In Malaysia, children with Autism are often denied the right to education due to the lack of understanding by most parties. Stuck in their own world, they are unable to communicate, do not follow simple instructions, and often are hyper and hypoactive. Research findings by the laboratory have given these children a new lease on life, enabling them to learn and grow in an environment which understands them.
Armed with these findings and important information about Autism, the laboratory is dedicated towards disseminating them nationwide to touch more people whose lives have been affected by the disorder. Throughout 2011, staff at the laboratory conducted courses and workshops across the country to make this happen. The UKM research team has recently been entrusted to train supervisors from Community-Based Rehabilitation centres nationwide, paving the way towards better care-giving for children with Autism in these centres across Malaysia.
Parents who have children with learning disabilities, especially with Autism, are often at a loss on how to deal with their needs. Having children with Autism can be especially stressful when one is not equipped with the knowledge to handle their daily needs. The Autism Learning Laboratory at the University often receives calls and requests from desperate parents to help them in dealing with their children.
It was with this in mind that special workshops for parents of children with Autism were established by the laboratory. The workshop provides parents with information and knowledge on the special ways needed to deal with their children. During the workshops, parents are able to learn how to stimulate their children’s development in order for them to reach their full potential. For these children, the most important thing is to reinforce what they have learnt in school at home as well. Keeping the parents well-informed also helps as they are the decision-makers when it comes to their child’s welfare.
The workshops have received tremendous positive feedback and demand, prompting the laboratory to conduct the workshops on a monthly basis. Aside from the monthly workshops, the laboratory also gives advice and counselling via telephone and appointments.
The laboratory has also given many undergraduate and postgraduate students the opportunity to study the needs of children with Autism through a close and personal approach. For many students pursuing their studies in the field of special education, having the opportunity to work hands-on with children with Autism in such a setting is indeed very valuable. Through the laboratory, the students learn how learning aids are developed and gain a better understanding on the theories of special education that they have learnt in the coursework.
The research staff is also in the process of documenting the unique teaching and learning techniques that have been discovered through the lab, with the aim of publishing a complete manual and resource handbook for teachers, parents and care-givers in the field of special education to better understand and help children with Autism.
Creating a better future
The laboratory’s research team plans to open a Centre of Excellence on Disabilities Research and Practice in the future to address the many needs and issues surrounding children and individuals with learning or physical disabilities. Among the main objectives of the centre will be to set up an effective and comprehensive intervention programme that will ensure children with special needs receive the necessary care and attention. The centre also aims to train and empower parents, teachers and care-givers to raise children with special needs more effectively and efficiently.
The centre will also develop teaching and learning modules for children with special needs, while building a strong support system for these children to eventually pursue their tertiary studies, or to live independently. The centre’s ultimate focus will be towards giving people with learning and physical disabilities as well as their family members more meaningful and fulfilling lives for the long term.
About 92% of Philipino school children are enrolled in public elementary and high schools which, until today, continue to face many complex and serious problems. In 2001, the Ateneo de Manila University, through its Ateneo Center for Educational Development (ACED), began a close partnership with four of the very largest and poorest of those public schools in Quezon City (the nation’s capital) in an effort to help uplift public basic education in the country.
The school improvement strategy being implemented highlights the crucial role of the school principal and the involvement of the entire school community (principal, teachers, parents, and barangay [smallest local government unit] and city/municipal government officials) in school reform.
The general strategy consists of three main phases, namely: (1) school profiling, (2) strategic planning, (3) and targeted interventions. Profiling involves generating baseline data about a school. Strategic planning allows the entire school community to come together and own the goal of improving the school as well as to identify key doable goals. Targeted interventions are activities designed to address the needs of a school that have surfaced in the profiling or strategic planning phases.
The school profiles generated by ACED reveals that a significant percentage of the public school children are malnourished and come to school hungry everyday. ACED has thus relatively recently embarked on in-school feeding programs in an effort to keep the children in school and improve their achievement levels.
On 04 February 2011, ACED launched the Blueplate for Better Learning Feeding Programme (Blueplate) in partnership with the Ateneo Professional Schools (APS). The APS consists of the post-graduate Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health, the Ateneo School of Government, the Ateneo Law School, and the Ateneo Graduate School of Business.
Blueplate is a daily in-school feeding program that targets 4000 of the most undernourished elementary school children in four Quezon City public schools that ACED is currently partnered with. This program is the concrete manifestation of the commitment of the four Professional Schools to help build the nation by confronting the problem of poverty through the provision of capacities to stakeholders, both individuals and institutions, in the frontlines.
Today, the different units of the Ateneo de Manila – from the Grade School to the Professional Schools – contribute actively to the program in the forms of financial contributions, sharing of expertise, and the sending of volunteers. The Grades 1 and 3 students of the Ateneo Grade School have adopted Blueplate as their Bigay–Puso (roughly “giving from the heart”) Program. The Bigay Puso program provides the opportunity for the young boys of the Ateneo Grade School to contribute funds to various adopted initiatives, through savings from little sacrifices such as giving up softdrinks or an extra snack during recess. Moreover, the students of the Ateneo Grade School have made it a practice to volunteer their services at the central kitchen of Blueplate whenever they do not have classes.
Students from the Ateneo Loyola Schools, (a tertiary level unit of the University) enrolled in the National Service Training Programme (NSTP) also assist by rendering their required service hours for the school year in the Blueplate central kitchen.
Meanwhile, students from the Ateneo Professional Schools raise funds for Blueplate and provide capacity–building training programmes for parent volunteers. Additionally, students from the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health take the lead in taking the students’ anthropometric measurements periodically. It is also worth noting that the Ateneo Law School is, in particular, in the process of seeking approval for a city ordinance that will require the Quezon City government to fund in–school feeding programmes. The approval of such an ordinance would contribute significantly to the sustainability of initiatives like Blueplate and would hopefully be replicated in many other cities and other local governments.
The feeding programme advocates and seeks to affirm that better nutrition is a prerequisite to enhanced school performance. One of the remarkable achievements of this programme is the formulation of low-cost, nutritious meals for the children (Php 11.50 or USD 0.28 per meal per child per day). Meals are cooked in a central kitchen located in one of the four public elementary schools which are part of Blueplate and the meals for the students of the three other schools are fetched by the schools from the central kitchen at about 10:30 am each day.
Before the sun is up at about 5:30 am of each school day, as the students start arriving at the Manuel L. Quezon Elementary School in Commonwealth, Quezon City where the central kitchen is located, parent volunteers begin working on their tasks for the day. The tasks include cooking four sacks of rice, boiling, deboning, and flaking about 80 kilos of chicken, and preparing some 125 kilos of local vegetables calabasa, sayote or sitaw. Preparing malunggay (moringa) leaves – another nutritious staple – is a part of the daily routine. The parent volunteers cook the meals in huge pots (calderos) and then pack the meals in individual plastic containers by around 10:30 am, ready to be served to the 4000 most malnourished students from Grades 1 to 4 who are the beneficiaries of the programme. Without this feeding programme, many of them just have meals consisting of rice and soy sauce, rice and catsup, or a cup of noodles, or nothing at all.
The children’s favorite meals are chicken tinola, champorado with dilis, calabasa and sayote guisado, and arroz caldo. At the start of the feeding programme in July, many of the students are unable to tolerate a full meal serving, but by October the students begin to come back for second and third servings. Three weeks into the programme, the children start showing signs of improvement – their cheeks become fuller, they become more physically active, and their attendance and participation in class begin to improve. The children’s heights and weights are measured periodically and data shows that after six to eight weeks of the programme, 50% of the participating students already reach normal Body Mass Index (BMI) levels.
An emerging strong feature of the programme is the high sense of ownership thereof by the parent volunteers who are mostly, but not limited to, the parents of the beneficiaries of Blueplate. Everyday, there are about 30 to 40 parent volunteers preparing the meals in the central kitchen and about ten to 20 parents serving the meals and washing the meal containers afterwards, in each of the schools. The parent volunteers render five to seven hours of voluntary service each day, with many of them reporting everyday without fail.
Blueplate is a template-building initiative. While it addresses the current hunger issue besetting our elementary school children that make learning in school extremely difficult if not impossible, the programme also desires to capture the operational details of carrying out a large-scale in-school feeding programme in a way that is sustainable and scalable. Among the envisioned outputs of this initiative are models and practices that can then be presented to policy makers – particularly the DepEd – and local government units, as concrete evidence that with a measly amount of funds, it is indeed possible to influence the education and development of children through proper nutrition. The DepEd recently reported that 562,262 pupils from the kindergarten and elementary levels (Grades 1 to 6) enrolled in public schools this school year are “severely wasted” based on the nutritional status reports prepared by the schools (Pazzibugan, 2012). Blueplate may be able to offer a template for addressing this problem systematically.
The Ateneo de Manila realizes that the challenges are great and the tasks are daunting but also recognizes that there is a lot to gain if the University and other reform sectors in Philippine education continue to rise to those challenges. There is conversely a lot to lose if the challenges are not faced and addressed.
“Gourmet Guru” is a social entrepreneurial initiative, kick-started by a group of 20 students from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) Club in June 2011. As a public cooking academy, it seeks to help low-income homemakers earn a living by imparting their family recipes of traditional dishes to keen students.
Its main objectives are to develop a business opportunity that would be socially beneficial and sustainable and to unlock the culinary talents of low-income homemakers, developing them into food specialists while earning a living. The academy also aims to share the importance of healthy eating and promote traditional recipes to the general public while reducing food wastage by encouraging home cooking.
Externally, Gourmet Guru made a social difference by helping low-income homemakers gain new perpectives of their capability as they use daily skills and knowledge to gain new means of income. They also gain professional skills through lesson planning and account balancing for their classes.
Aside from engaging members of the public in cooking classes, Gourmet Guru also extends its reach through a series of cookbooks featuring the homemakers’ recipes, made available for sale at major bookstores in the country.
By June 2012, the Gourmet Guru Academy has conducted 87 lessons, served 308 customers and earned revenue of $22,500; all in its first year of operation.
The successes of the programme lies in the three focus areas that the students focused on to help empower the homemakers. They are:
1. Skills development: Before classes were formally introduced to the general public, homemakers underwent trial sessions with the students involved who would provide feedback on instruction styles, lesson planning and types of recipes, to enable them to understand how to conduct their classes in a professional and efficient manner. Homemakers were also taught basic accounting skills to enable them to understand how to balance income with expenses as the eventual aim of the project was to become a sustainable business that can be operated by the homemakers without involvement from the students.
2. Network bridging: Students sought different categories of partners to work with under the programme so as to extend the reach and exposure of the homemakers. (eg. with family service centres, schools, industry professionals) Ad hoc and long-term contracts were made to increase exposure and provide stability.
3. Service diversification: Besides general cooking lessons to the public, students also branched out the academy services to Home Economics programmes in schools, bonding activities for young couples under marriage preparatory programmes and catering services, to broaden sources of income for the homemakers. Cookbooks were also launched as an alternate income source by providing royalty to the homemakers.
Through the students’ effort, Gourmet Guru has helped supplement the participating homemakers’ household income by an average of 12%, with the highest earner bringing in $3100. A total of 31 homemakers benefited from the project and earned a sum of $13,800 by June 2012.
Mdm Hadijah, one of the participating homemakers, said, “After joining Gourmet Guru, I am grateful for the additional income as it helps me build a better life for my children. I also feel that I have more confidence when speaking in front of many people.”
1. Strengthening the homemakers’ team by creating and implementing personal development plans for each individual. A good remuneration and incentive system leading towards part-time employment would also be developed. Lastly, the team intends to create a recruitment plan to allow for quality additions to the current team
2. Create a more powerful team by streamlining the team, review roles and responsibilities and make changes if needed. There are also plans to take on a part-time, later to be converted to full-time, manager for the project.
3. Strengthen the support system by putting together a team of professional advisors who are experts in law, finance, HR, business management, marketing and public relations. Develop and implement a plan to get financial and in-kind support from the public and private sectors.
The project is entirely conceptualized, planned and executed by the students. Students not only put together the business development plan as well as were involved on the ground as managers, overseeing the programme execution as well as establishing partnerships. Although the students started off without real-world experience in business, they were able to take steady steps in achieving this project through strong teamwork and a listening ear to their professional mentors.