Schools and Volunteerism for Nation-Building

Article excerpt

Bayanihan, Damayan, Kawanggawa, Pahinungod.

These are the words that became the overwhelming din as the spirit of volunteerism filled the halls of Miriam College during the first National Conference on the Engagement of the Academe in Volunteering (NCEAV).

The event, held during the International Volunteering Month last December, was organized in collaboration with the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and VSO Bahaginan.

Almost 500 participants from campuses and organizations all over the country attended the two-day conference. Supported by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Department of Education (DepEd), the confab had a total of 50 speakers.

THE EXPANDING ROLE OF VOLUNTEERS

In a bid to provide a comprehensive volunteering system for the academe and schools, Commission on Higher Education chairperson Patricia Licuanan unveiled a framework that schools can use to coordinate volunteerism and active citizenship towards nation-building.

Under the framework, the academe is not only assigned to provide basic services or needs to a specific community in need of help; it is also instructed to create extension programs that impart knowledge and skills to the members of the community for a long-term effect.

"All state universities and colleges, and most private universities are engaged in extension work, which is interchangeably called outreach, community service or community engagement," says Licuanan. "Though social outreach and extension programs, particularly through advocacy centers, higher education institutions work directly with poor and disadvantaged communities as well as with special sectors. By developing its capability, shaping values, building bridges and working for empowerment, it directly contributes to poverty eradication and national development."

Licuanan emphasized the role of universities which is to empower the members of a certain community by providing them adequate knowledge and skills.

"Volunteering is one important way of bringing people together, working in one goal," says Rachel Quintos, spokesperson for the VSO Bahaginan, one of the organizers of NCEAV. "NCEAV provides opportunities for the academe to harness volunteerism among the youth, maximize their roles to influence and encourage them to become change agents in their communities for a wider scope."

Speakers of NCEAV came from various sectors of the country and tackled topics such as Volunteers in Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, Youth Volunteers and Social Media, as well as the development of a White Paper to influence public policies. …