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By Anna Valmero INQUIRER.net QUEZON CITY, Philippines -- The Commission on Information and Communications Te chnology (CICT) has opened its seventh e-learning center in Loyola Heights unde r its eSkwela project. The CICT through its Human Capital Development Group (CICT HCDG) launched in 20 05 eSkwela to provide disadvantaged youth with educational opportunities to hel p reduce the digital divide and enhance their capacity to be successful partici pants in a global and knowledge-based economy. The Loyola Heights center received an enrollment of 55 learners, mostly aged be low 20. The eSkwela project hopes to provide opportunity for Filipino out-of-school you ths and adults (OSYAs) to go back to school. According to a 2004 study by the Department of Education, there are 15 million Filipino out-of-school youths and adults. A major cause of this is poverty. Ins tead of going to school, children from poor families start working at an early age to help provide for their families. According to the Functional Literacy, Education and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS), public education in the country is free but the poor find it difficult to cove r transportation, food and allowances cost of going to school. Angelina Malabanan, mobile teacher at the new center, said the site will offer the opportunity of alternative education for more OSYAs in the area. Malabanan was fielded by DepEdâa Bureau of Alternative Learning System (BALS) a s a mobile teacher. âUnder eSkwela, we call the enrollees as learners compared to students in forma l schooling; we teach them based on their own pace,â said Malabanan. âWe employ interactive topic modules to teach them the five learning strands geared to he lp them develop basic skills in preparation for employment, vocational courses or tertiary education.â The five learning strands include communications, critical thinking and problem solving, productivity and sustainability of natural resources, development of self and sense of community, and expanding oneâs world vision. The modules incl ude audio and text materials in English but for discussions, learners can use F ilipino or English. Since eSkwela is a play on Filipino terms âiskwelaâ meaning school and âkwelaâ meaning fun, the five strands uses BALS-based interactive modules which learner s can access via the Internet. Malabanan said this strategy helps students develop computer literacy while stu dying the modules. Malabanan added that they also encourage peer-teaching, in which fast learners help slow learners in some topics. âThis gives learning a community experience, â she said. Amy Mosura, eSkwela project staff, said they are continuously expanding as more communities learn about and adopt the program. âCommunities contact us to seek guidance on how to set up an eSkwela center. Si nce this is a âbayanihanâ effort, the local community helps provide a room or a center to house the learners and the computers to be used. Then, mobile teache rs are fielded and teach at the center.â The community in which the eSkwela center is located manages the center. Mosura said the local community, which includes LGUs and local DepEd or civic o rganizations, are oriented about their responsibilities to maintain the sustain ability of the project and become stewards of development for their learners. Mosura added that they are gaining enrollees as more learn about the benefits o f the eSkwela program: ICT-based learning and flexible schedules. She added the program also eliminates awkwardness for adults to learn in a form al school environment. She cited as example a 40-year-old who gave up schooling in Grade 6 due to bein g bullied for her physical disability. She enrolled at the eSkwela center in Sa n Jose del Monte, Bulacan, took the accreditation exam and ranked eighth among examiners in the area. âThe current education system is a one-size fits all program but for some reaso ns, it cannot work for some people -- like the young who start work at an early age and those above 30-years-old who feel awkward to go back to secondary scho ol. We cannot keep them marginalized because they are assets of the country tow ards development.â But there is a long road ahead for eSkwela. According to Amy Mosura of the eSkwela project, challenges for operations and f urther expansion include lack of mobile teachers and funding. Budget for eSkwel a comes from CICT and grants from foundations, such as the APEC Educational Fou ndation, mainly provide budget for eSkwelaâs operations. In the Loyola Heights center, lack of desktop computers is a big challenge sinc e all 55 learners share the five computers available, said Malabanan. To addres s this, learners have limited hours of computer use and were divided in morning and afternoon shifts. The new center is the second e-learning site in Diliman, the first is located a t Roces Avenue. Provincial centers are located at Bulacan, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro , Ormoc and Zamboanga.
By Anna Valmero INQUIRER.net MANILA, Philippines -- In todayâs age of knowledge-based economy, human resourc es are key to business success. At the forefront of the dawn of the human resources era, business process outso urcing giant Accenture announced plans to deploy its human resources (HR) Acade my program for the companyâs analyst and specialist-level HR professionals in t he Philippines. Next to India, the Philippines is the second country where this program is bein g deployed among all of Accentureâs offices. "The HR Academy is a critical enabler for the human resources industry," said R ahul Varma, senior director of Accentureâs Human Resource Strategy unit. "We be lieve that HR talent is the number one key differentiator organizations must ha ve to become future industry leaders." Varma said in an interview with INQUIRER.net that for organizations to be successful, "HR leaders should sit at the table, strategizing together wi th other business leaders on how to solve key talent challenges and turn them t o opportunities." To achieve this, a new paradigm in terms of human resource capability is needed . This is where Accentureâs HR Academy comes in. The Accenture Philippines HR Academy is a structured learning program that supp orts the development of the HR talent potential. The program is a collaboration between Accenture and two of the Philippinesâ learning institutions -- the Ate neo Center for Organization Research and Development (Ateneo CORD) and the Peop le Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP). Ateneo CORD executive director Ma. Regina Hechanova said it took a year for the m to develop a curriculum suited to the needs and the industry served by Accent ure. "First, we identified how Accenture does human resource management and loo ked at the types of skills that their employees really need. From there, we cus tomized the outputs and exercises to be included in the curriculum so it is ver y relevant to Accentureâs context." The HR Academy program is open to all Accenture employees with at least one yea r of tenure in the company. The curriculum requires enrolled employees to spend one day to participate in the academic curriculum. Said Varma: "For two years, employees engaged in the HR Academy are learning fr om their courses and at the same time, apply what they are learning during thei r daily work" -- a unique venue to learn simultaneously from work and academic environments. What separates the new program from traditional HR training? Varma said the new program offers a synergistic, very holistic, up-to-date curr iculum. Aside from a unique work-academic learning environment, the labor laws included in the curriculum are those that will be applicable in the next 50 yea rs. "Performance management is a critical factor in todayâs knowledge-based eco nomy." HR Academy graduates are trained to perform in a multinational environme nt and deliver services in all business perspectives. For the Philippines, the program will ensure Accentureâs local operations "will have the right talent to support the organizationâs needs for today and in the future in terms of growth and expansion plans," said Ramona Velasco, country h uman resources lead, Accenture Delivery Centers in the Philippines.

US college offers YouTube class

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By Associated Press CLAREMONT, California--Here's a dream-come-true for Web addicts: college credit for watching YouTube. Pitzer College this fall began offering what may be the first course about the video-sharing site. About 35 students meet in a classroom but work mostly onlin e, where they view YouTube content and post their comments. Class lessons also are posted and students are encouraged to post videos. One c lass member, for instance, posted a 1:36-minute video of himself juggling. Alexandra Juhasz, a media studies professor at the liberal arts college, said s he was "underwhelmed" by the content on YouTube but set up the course, "Learnin g from YouTube," to explore the role of the popular site. Class members control most of the class content and YouTube watchers from aroun d the world are encouraged to comment, Juhasz said. She hopes the course will raise serious issues about YouTube, such as the role of "corporate-sponsored democratic media expression." YouTube is "a phenomenon that should be studied," student Darren Grose said. "Y ou can learn a lot about American culture and just Internet culture in general. "

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