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Social good in the digital age

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By Reynaldo C. Lugtu Jr.

“We want to reach one million Filipino youth across the Philippines,” stressed Sreeni Narayanan, the Founder and Group Managing Director of Asia Society for Social Improvement and Sustainable Transformation (ASSIST) during the recently-held relaunch of DigiBayanihan, a tri-sectoral program to uplift the digital literacy of the youth.

First launched in 2014, DigiBayanihan has evolved into a collaboration among ASSIST, a capacity-building non-government organization (NGO), the Department of Information and Communications Technology’s (DICT) Tech4ED program to provide localized learning modules, and technology companies.

DigiBayanihancomes from digital and bayanihan, a Filipino word pronounced like “buy-uh-nee-hun,” which refers to a spirit of communal unity and cooperation; thus, DigiBayanihan is the unity among various sectors of society to promote digital literacy.

And why not? According to the Philippines Statistics Authority data in 2016, there’s 63 million people in the country that lack basic digital skills. These skills are no longer optional but have become integral in addressing employment issues. In fact, a World Bank report notes that by 2020, 95 percent of all jobs will require digital literacy, as highlighted by Mr. Narayanan.

Through DICT’s Tech4ED, DigiBayanihan will enhance the youth’s digital skills by providing various communities across the countryaccess to learning portals such as The Career Engine, a platform that provides soft skills training for recently graduated students of colleges and vocational schools, and Test Hero, an online test preparation platform that seeks to help high schools students review for university entrance exams. By supplementing traditional education with practical skills training, the program could actively help the population in the Visayas, Mindanao and rest of Luzon regions become more equipped with digital literacy.

In the digital age, doing social good is becomes easily scalable, just like any successful tech start-up, because of the passion of selfless individuals to volunteer and help alleviate some social ills that hound the world all over.

Take for example, Wikipedia, the largest online free encyclopaedia, written collaboratively by the people who use it. Millions of individuals volunteer to make changes to improve entries and benefit those doing research or simply those who just want learn new things. For Wikipedia to keep working, thousands of volunteers need a stable infrastructure made up of servers, tech staff, and others on which to work. This is maintained by a small non-profit all paid by donations ranging from as little as $5; and yet Wikipedia isranked the fifth-most popular website in the world.

Another example is TechSoup Global, another non-profit organization which seeks to create an infrastructure for other nonprofits to stay informed on how to use technology to increase their social impact. “Through their online platform, NGO members in Africa, the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East share ideas on how to solve social issues and become agents of global change. They are then able to connect their respective communities to the best local and global technological resources to assist with the social issues they are focused on addressing.”

NGOs greatly increase their impact when they make full use of technologies such as data analytics, mobility, geo-mapping, and cloud applications by improving operational efficiency, assistance delivery, resource management, fund-raising, and stakeholders engagement. If used effectively, such technologies can be a powerful tool to effect wide sweeping positive social change and ultimately accomplish their mission.

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The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of FINEX.The author may be emailed at reylugtu@reylugtu.com.

The author is the President of The Engage Philippines and Hungry Workhorse, and Co-Founder of Caucus Inc. He is the Chairman of the ICT Committee of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX). He teaches strategic management in the MBA Program of De La Salle University. He is also an Adjunct Faculty of the Asian Institute of Management

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