The word kaagapay is typically associated with being at one’s side. Its constituents, the affix, ka-, which indicates relation, and its root, agapay, or support, together connote mutual assistance, trust, care, and respect from individuals who desire that others become fully functional persons.
With these qualities in mind, the University of the Philippines (UP) launched the Kaagapay sa Pagaaral ng mga Iskolar ng Bayan or #KaagapayUP project on July 21, 2020. The project’s primary aim is to help UP’s financially challenged students acquire the resources to engage in the remote and blended learning solutions instituted by the University in response to COVID-19. The launch was broadcast live over Zoom, and through the TVUP Youtube channel.
For many students of UP, finding a source and sense of support in these difficult times is a necessity. The pandemic has transformed the landscape of education in the country and the world. UP itself, via a Memorandum from the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs dated June 4, 2020, has adopted remote teaching and learning for academic year (AY) 2020-2021, with the possibility of blended remote and face-to-face learning in courses with discipline-specific skills (i.e. laboratory, studio, practicum, etc.), provided public health requirements are met.
Unfortunately, not all of UP’s students can effortlessly adapt to these changes. In her message, UP Vice President Elena E. Pernia estimated that of its roughly 60,000 students, there are around 1,600 financially challenged students who do not have the resources to acquire computers and stable internet access. Furthermore, there are some 4,000 students from households categorized “vulnerable”, whose incomes cannot fully support these needs because of the pandemic.
The #KaagapayUP program aims to raise funds to provide financially challenged students with their own laptop computers and internet connections that can help them access UP’s remote learning courses starting in AY 2020-2021. These courses will utilize asynchronous communication platforms, such as online message boards and instant messaging applications, as well as synchronous or ‘real-time’ platforms, such as UP’s Learning Management Systems, Zoom, Google Classroom, Edmodo, and others.
As its name suggests, the Kaagapay sa Pag-aaral program encourages the global UP community to support its most financially challenged students. The project aims to create a culture of philanthropy on all levels, from the alumni to the student body, and to promote the practice of giving back and paying it forward.
More importantly, the project was created to inspire confidence among UP’s own students with the thought of having someone on their side in times of need. This is poignantly symbolized by the project’s icon, two sunflowers growing side-by-side, representing not only mutual support, but hope.
UP Vice President for Academic Affairs Cynthia Rose Bautista noted that the COVID-19 pandemic expedited UP’s remote and blended learning solutions, which were being developed the past few years to deal with disruptions from calamities or sociopolitical unrest. The #KaagapayUP project, therefore, would aid in the training of all of UP’s students by seeking to level the remote learning playing field for those who might otherwise struggle to adapt to an educational landscape that has changed overnight.
Bautista noted that while “intelligence may be normally distributed, opportunities in this country are not,” which leads to many talented but financially disadvantaged students being admitted into UP. “We cannot allow the highly unequal structure of Philippine society to further disadvantage these students in the time of COVID,” she insisted, an inequality that is even more sharply manifested in the different capabilities of students in access to basic learning materials and devices.
UP is, therefore, tapping into the generosity of its community and the public to help the nation’s future leaders through the #KaagapayUP project to “transcend the socioeconomic divide that constrains the fulfillment of their potential and allow them to thrive, engage, learn, and create even in times of adversity.”
In their messages, UP President Danilo L. Concepcion and UP Alumni Regent Reynaldo C. Laserna both lauded the aims of the project, while pledging their full support to the fulfillment of its mission.
“Hindi po natin nais na itigil ang pagtuklas ng talino sa pamamagitan ng pag-aaral at pagsasaliksik. At kung may maiiwanan po, gagawa tayo ng paraan upang sila ay ating makasama. Ang maiwanan ang kahit isang iskolar ng bayan ay masakit po para sa atin. Kaya gagawa po tayo ng paraan sa abot ng ating kakayahan upang sila ay ating mai-angkas at mabitbit sa ating pag-usad [We do not want to cut short the discovery of intelligence through learning and research. And if anyone is in danger of being left behind, we will find a way to make sure they are with us. That even one of our iskolar ng bayan would be left behind is painful to me. That is why we will find ways, to the best of our abilities, to ensure that they are with us in our journey toward progress].”
Laserna for his part stated that with the postponement of UP’s Annual Grand Alumni Homecoming, the 2020 Jubilarians together with the UP Alumni Association’s (UPAA) 180 chapters worldwide will instead channel their resources to support the #KaagapayUP project.
The cost of supporting a typical UP student through four years of tertiary education is estimated to be P110,000 per student, with P30,000 being the cost of a laptop computer with suitable specifications, and P80,000 covering the cost of internet connectivity for four (4) years. Donation packages have been created and tailor fitted to support all or part of these amounts per student.
#KaagapayUP is the overall umbrella project for all system-wide efforts to support financially needy students to cope with the challenges of remote learning. Both payment options and UP’s range of donating partners have been expanded to assist as many students as possible. All entities from corporations/private institutions, alumni organizations and individual alumni, socio-civic groups, and current UP faculty, staff, and students can make a difference.
Interested donors may make use of a range of payment portals to facilitate their donations. One may donate directly via cash or check through the UP System’s Landbank of the Philippines (LBP) trust account or to #KaagapayUP accounts handled by the UP Foundation. One may also utilize bank deposits, wire transfers, online bank transfers and remittances, credit/debit cards, and digital payment platforms, such as PayMaya, GCash, PayPal and DragonPay.
For more information on how to donate and what option might be the best for you, please visit kaagapay.up.edu.ph.
For assistance, contact the Kaagapay secretariat at 0916 723 1200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.