Although physical travel across states and physical activities involving international delegations have been restricted by the pandemic, people and institutions worldwide have developed a greater capacity to utilize communications technology to overcome this obstacle. With the theme of “Strengthening the ASEAN Education Delivery Systems in Challenging Times”, the 2021 ASEAN Youth Volunteer Programme (AYVP) officially began last August 30 using Zoom, social media apps, and online platforms provided by the University of the Philippines (UP).
Dubbed “e-AYVP Philippines 2021”, the three-week-long trainings this year feature online workshops, webinars and masterclasses to prepare ASEAN youth in addressing complex challenges faced by the education sector. The programme develops leadership and volunteerism skills among youth for them to initiate or sustain progress in their own communities. Previous ones were conducted physically in Malaysia (2013 & 2014), Cambodia (2015), the Philippines (2016), Indonesia (2017) and Malaysia (2018 & 2019).
The e-AYVP Philippines 2021 is using the UP Open University’s MoDEL Learning Management System as the conference platform. This enables participants to access announcements, information about the sessions, assignment and related readings, session recordings, and other features.
The online opening ceremony was attended by more than 200 participants, including key university officials, resource persons, partners and AYVP secretariat members. Initially, there were 73 youth registered as participants from Malaysia, 71 from the Philippines, 52 from Indonesia, 46 from Vietnam, 30 from Myanmar, and dozens more from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, The People’s Republic of China, and Japan.
Prof. Dato’ Ts Dr. Mohd Ekhwan Hj. Toriman, Vice-Chancellor of the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, explained that the AYVP is being jointly implemented by the Secretariat at UP through the Ugnayan ng Pahinungód/Oblation Corps, the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (The National University of Malaysia), the University Community Transformation Centre (UCTC), and the ASEAN University Network University Social Responsibility & Sustainability (AUN USR&S), in partnership with the ASEAN Secretariat and Ministry of Youth and Sports Malaysia. He added that the participants of the AYVP receive inputs and trainings from expert resource persons from university faculty, and representatives of government and international organizations. The topics include: best practices in addressing gender inequalities, empowering youth, enhancing social integration, and many others related to promoting “unity in diversity” and understanding of ASEAN.
Prof. Danilo Lardizabal Concepción, UP President, said the discussions will be motivational and interesting, empowering and unifying, and life-changing for the youth. He added that the youth volunteers, who embody hope for a better future, will be trained to provide services that are most needed in their own communities and will benefit the underserved. He also highlighted the “bayanihan” spirit of cooperation, unity, service and volunteerism among ASEAN members to achieve shared goals.
Dr. J. Prospero “Popoy” de Vera, Chairperson of the Commission on Higher Education of the Philippines, shared insights on how AYVP can strengthen ASEAN education delivery systems during the pandemic. He discussed the role of the programme in harnessing the strengths of ASEAN members, institutions and organizations to help develop young leaders and advocates for sustainable development.
His Royal Highness Tunku Zain Al-‘Abidin ibni Tuanku Muhriz, Royal Fellow at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, discussed the role of youth in the ASEAN community. He said the youth are actively participating in politics, economic activities and other beneficial initiatives. He emphasized that they can maximize the use of technology to promote understanding and engage fellow youth across communities in achieving development goals.
Ms. Shalina Miah, Regional Manager of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Asia and the Pacific, discussed roles and responsibilities of volunteers in introducing innovations and consequently changing society. She outlined the many ways the various advocacies are interconnected to building a better future for today’s youth.
Earlier that day, Dr. Nasruddin Yunos, a senior fellow at CITRA of the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, provided participants an orientation on ASEAN cultural diversity and unity. He emphasized the need for awareness, respect and cooperation, and that these are expected of the programme participants at all times.
Webinars and workshops during the e-AYVP will be facilitated by resource speakers from the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, UP, USAID Philippines, UNICEF Malaysia, Miriam College, Ibaraki University, Ehime University, Hallym University, De la Salle University, Chiang Mai University, National University of Singapore, and many other renowned educational institutions and organizations.
The e-AYVP Philippines 2021 UP Steering Committee is headed by (Ret.) Prof. Grace H. Aguiling-Dalisay (November 29, 2019-July 31, 2021) and Prof. Marie Therese A.P. Bustos (August 1, 2021-present), Director of the Ugnayan ng Pahinungód System Office, and assisted by Ms. Regina Elizabeth Capuno. Committee members are: Ms. Rhonna Robles-Vereña, Director of the Ugnayan ng Pahinungód Open University; Prof. Ruben Gamala, Director of the Ugnayan ng Pahinungód Visayas; Mr. Jose Limbay Lahi Espaldon, Director of the Ugnayan ng Pahinungód Los Baños; Prof. Aurelio Vilbar, Director of the Ugnayan ng Pahinungód Cebu; Ms. Luisa Gelisan, Director of the UP Open University Multimedia Center; and Ms. Diana Ruth Arcega, Senior Project Officer of the Ugnayan ng Pahinungód System Office.