PeaceTech Now

Technology Teaches Students to Build Bridges of Peace

The recent terror attacks in Paris, Beirut, and other parts of the globe have incited an unprecedented level of fear among people worldwide.

As world leaders condemn these acts of terror, anti-Islam rhetoric is rearing its ugly head circulating prejudice and hate thru social media. Others expressed support for the Muslim community by posting comments and uploading photos and videos, which promote tolerance in the World Wide Web.

How does Internet access allow youth from different cultures or religions to understand and then contribute to global and local dialogues on peace?

PeaceTech -- an NGO that has pioneered Internet communication technology for peace-building in the Philippines and Indonesia -- has surveyed over 500 high school students across the Philippines to better understand what Filipino youth perceive about their neighbor island groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

The results show a strong misconception about Mindanao, as students relied heavily on TV, radio and digital news, rather than taking the time to understand the true situation of minorities including their cultures and histories.

The Dept. of Education and PeaceTech, driven by the belief that they have vital roles in connecting Filipino youth across the Philippines to build understanding, have decided to do something to changes these misconceptions.

On December 2, 2015, they will formally launch the Global Classroom Program simultaneously at Cotabato City National High School – Main Campus in Mindanao and Ramon Magsaysay (Cubao) High School in Luzon.

”Global Classroom”, which works with predominantly Christian students in the Northern Philippines and Muslim students in the south, aims to increase unity among Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao youth by bridging 35,000 students hundreds of kilometers apart in their daily classes. Global Classroom will use technology to achieve two objectives: 1) improve learning by making it more engaging; and 2) use technology to increase tolerance between youth in regions divided by distance and armed conflict.

Starting by pairing classrooms to build bridges between different regions -- Cotabato City and Quezon City -- the Program will work with strategic DepEd Public Schools to transform a regular classroom into a Global Classroom. Each classroom is equipped with laptops, a projector and up to 10mbps Internet connection.

Trained teachers will use videoconferencing to hold classes between students from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Global Classroom teachers ensure that the classes are student-centered, interactive and are localized in context of each group’s region.

The Global Classroom, which began in 2011-2012 as a pilot program, is now transitioning to being institutionalized into the DepEd curriculum. Within three years, this innovative educational tool will be integrated into the high school curriculum for at least 32 schools and will be used to teach History, Values Education, English and Science. The program will expand to strategic cities in Mindanao such as Cotabato City, Illigan, Marawi City, Zamboanga City, and areas in Cebu and the National Capital Region.

Special thanks to our donors: TELUS International Philippines, Hope International Development Agency; and the Souchay Gossen Family Foundation.