Of all the inequalities in the world, the one that causes the greatest concern is that “children in the most vulnerable areas of the planet don’t have access to quality education.”
These were the sentiments of Pope Francis himself, which he personally shared with Mr. César Alierta of Spain’s ProFuturo Foundation. And inspired by the Pope’s words, Mr. Alierta and the ProFuturo Foundation to launch the ProFuturo Project, which seeks to narrow the education gap among vulnerable populations in different parts of the world.
ProFuturo uses digital technology to provide access to quality, transformational, and universal education, and through it, access to equal opportunities for boys and girls. It focuses on enhancing teachers’ skills, methods, and competencies, and leveraging on digital technologies. It has so far reached 5.6 million children worldwide, particularly in parts of Central and South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and parts of Asia (particularly Lebanon).
And now the project has reached the Philippines, with Ayala Foundation taking the lead in the pilot implementation in Southeast Asia.
Mr. Alierta, together with key officials from ProFuturo Foundation and Fundación Telefónica, visited the Philippines earlier this year to witness the launch of the ProFuturo in 31 public elementary schools in El Nido, Palawan, and Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro.
The project, in its pilot implementation phase, is reaching at least 11,000 Filipino students, and is poised to reach more within the year. It kicked off with the signing of an agreement with the Department of Education Mimaropa, ProFuturo Foundation, and Ayala Foundation in August last year.
How did ProFuturo reach the Philippines? Explained Mr. Alierta: “The Philippines is the first country in Southeast Asia where we have taken the project, a decision that was promoted due to several factors: having found a partner like the Ayala Foundation, with its solidity and experience, which has helped us understand better the context of the country and to set up two projects in the Mimaropa region; the language advantage, English being the co-official language; and the existence of a digital initiative in many of the public schools promoted by the Department of Education, which serves as a base for implementing the ProFuturo project in the classrooms.” ProFuturo also came to the Philippines with the assistance of Ms. Cristina Zobel de Ayala, as well as Mr. Ignacio Suárez de Puga.
As a digital education initiative, ProFuturo aims to supplement and enhance the standard DepEd curriculum. It also seeks to empower the teacher as an advocate of transformative learning in the classroom. To date, ProFuturo has trained 195 teachers in the Philippines.
“We at Ayala Foundation are very pleased to be working with ProFuturo Foundation on this worthy initiative of bringing quality education with the use of technological tools and strategies to our local classrooms,” said Ruel Maranan, Ayala Foundation president. “We are also happy to work closely with our local government and local DepEd, who share our commitment to improving lives through education.”
In the next few months ProFuturo will be brought to more schools in El Nido, Palawan, and Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, as well as Romblon.