Cordillera HS students show off programming prowess in mobile app contest

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High school students from the Cordilleran Administrative Region (CAR) came together last Sept. 29 to participate in a mobile app competition dubbed “goIT” sponsored by Indian tech firm Tata Consultancy Service (TCS).

TCS Philippines CSR manager Patrick Veril

The goIT program aims to spark interest in computer science among underprivileged youth in rural areas and encourage them to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers.

The implementation of the TCS goIT program in partnership with the Department of Education–CAR was the first time the program was launched in the Philippines.

It was conducted in six CAR provinces: Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Mt. Province. and Kalinga, engaging 298 students across 22 schools.

Executed throughout the school year, the goIT curriculum taught Cordilleran students the innovation life cycle, product prototyping, and industry-relevant entrepreneurial skills such as product pitching.

It also introduced them to mindsets and concepts useful for technology entrepreneurs like design thinking, digital technologies, and agile methodologies.

Students applied their learnings at the end of the program by proposing mobile apps targeting problems in their community. In total, students brainstormed 46 apps with the 10 best concepts getting picked.

The top spot was claimed by an app from the Cordillera Regional Science High School (CRSHS) students. Playfully called Transformers, the app is a digital marketplace where upcyclable materials can be bought and sold.

The title of first runner-up was also taken by CRSHS students. Their app, Comstop, addressed food waste problems.

Second runner-up was awarded to the app TY Alert from the students of Alejo M. Pacalso Memorial High School in Itogon, Benguet. TY Alert functions as a holistic information source during disasters.

The Anemo app from the Baguio City Science National High School students tied for third runner-up with the WeCare app from the Mountain Province General Comprehensive High School students. Anemo tackled water consumption issues and WeCare focused on Mental Health.

DepEd-CAR cited the expertise of the TCS employee-volunteers who facilitated the program. Their participation is part of the company’s effort to improve its abysmal track record in STEM education.

Case in point, the 2019 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study found that the Philippines placed lowest among the 58 countries surveyed in Grade 4 math and science assessments.

“In terms of global standards, we are trying our best to partner with international organizations… to help us in the STEM education of the Philippines,” said Florante E. Vergara, DepED CAR assistant regional director.

“We really have to explore possibilities for our Filipino children by partnering with international agencies, like Tata Consultancy Services, [and] by partnering with world organizations that help us in the education of STEM in the Philippines.”

Patrick Veril, TCS Philippines CSR Manager, said the aim of the goIT program is to reach all regions in the Philippines. It has already launched in Western Visayas and TCS expects it to reach 1000 students in 20 of the region’s divisions.

Shiju Varghese, TCS Philippines country head, added: “On behalf of the entire TCS Philippines team, we would like to congratulate our first batch of goIT students in the Philippines. Their output proved that the Filipino youth are capable of creating a better future for the country.”

Since the goIT program launched in 2009, it has supported over 97,000 students across 32 countries. The program is part of TCS’ larger philosophy to support the development and growth of rural areas through education, health, and livelihood generation programs.

Meanwhile, TCS also announced that it is bringing the TCS Sustainathon to the Philippines this month.

With the theme of “Reimagining Education,” the Sustainathon 2021 hopes to enable senior high school and college students to join discussions on pressing issues surrounding education today and hopefully develop ideas on how to have an “Inclusive Education for all in 2030.”

TCS Sustainathon was initially launched in Singapore in 2020 with the theme of Combating Food Waste. It served as a platform for young minds to collaborate with private companies, nonprofit organizations and government agencies to co-create solutions for real world sustainability issues using digital technologies.

Ninety-eight students from more than 15 educational institutions in Singapore developed plans on fighting food waste, which has been one of the major challenges faced by many countries.

This year, TCS expands its initiative to the Philippines and Malaysia to promote inclusivity in education as these countries implement blended and flexible learning.

“Education across the world has been greatly affected by the pandemic. Filipino students, in particular, face challenges in coping with changes but they continue to make extra efforts to pursue learning. We witnessed students in Singapore last year in the pilot run of TCS Sustainathon being passionately involved in key issues and sharing their ideas. We at TCS Philippines are excited to see the ideas Filipino students have on improving education,” said Varghese.

Participants can register and submit their entries at the TCS Sustainathon Philippines website until November 19. The first place winner will receive P150,000 while the second and third placers will receive P100,000 and P50,000, respectively.

The top two winners will compete alongside Sustainathon Singapore and Malaysia winners at the Asean Championship in March 2022.

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