PhilDev, Messy Bessy hold startup contest for distance learning solutions

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PhilDev Foundation collaborated recently with social enterprise firm Messy Bessy to run the first PhilDev Labs Innovation Challenge, which sought to create innovative solutions in distance learning.

Members of Gat Team

One of the groups who took on the challenge is a group of five college freshmen who, as they started going to university, encountered the same problem that Messy Bessy scholars and several students in the Philippines are currently facing.

The “Gat-Team”, as what they called themselves, and the other groups went through a series of seminars and mentorships — from design thinking and social innovation to learning sessions where teams had to put themselves in the shoes of the scholars, and creators of the modules to understand deeper the problems Messy Bessy’s scholars are facing in remote learning.

“There are several students experiencing this problem of adjusting to the new normal, so I thought to myself, why not contribute in a small way to solve this problem by taking on this challenge?” said group member Karl Roque, who is currently studying at Nagoya University.

Moira Lopez, another member of the team from the University of the Philippines – Diliman, said: “This opened us to the fact that there is so much room for improvement in this country. There is the potential to build and create something for different sectors while still making it more accessible for others.”

After gaining a deeper understanding on the several issues the “new normal” is posing in the education sector, the Gat-Team focused on accessibility as a crucial aspect they want to integrate in their innovation.

“We wanted to make accessibility the center of our project since we thought that was the most pressing issue right now given their [the scholars] situation. So we wanted to create something that is both accessible and low-cost,” said team member Kaira Gonzales, also from UP Diliman.

Towards the last week of the innovation challenge, Gat-Team pitched their idea – a low-cost, accessible and easy-to-use e-learning platform – and got the nod of the judges. Currently, the team is working closely with Messy Bessy and PhilDev Foundation to help polish up their solution. As part of further support, their innovation will be incubated and funded for pilot-testing.

“Don’t be afraid to take on new opportunities and look for opportunities. Many people have the potential to do great things; they just don’t know how to concretize these great ideas. In our case, we found the Innovation Challenge online. Several people need your help so don’t be afraid to seek them out first,” said Juan Gabriel Subido from UP Manila and a member of the group.

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