One of the country’s leading telecommunications company unveiled an innovative program using the ubiquitous cellular phone to teach English to out-of-school-youth to enable them to land a job in the booming business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.
Ernest Cu, president and chief executive officer of Globe Telecom, said the move is in support of the education initiative of GSM Association, which brought together the Department of Education (DepEd), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) and other industry players to create education opportunities for out-of-school-youth nationwide.
“Globe Hotline is an Interactive Voice Recording [IVR] that could help out-of-school youth build their English language foundation without the need for formal schooling so that they can break into the BPO industry, a booming and constantly growing sector that contributes more than $10 billion to the Philippine Gross Domestic Product,” Cu said.
It is now being pilot-tested at Bagosphere, a social enterprise based in Bago City, Negros Occidental funded by Kickstart Ventures, a startup incubator and investment firm of Globe.
Bagosphere trains out-of-school youth to get jobs in the BPO industry. Thus, once the Globe Hotline students pass the required English fundamentals, they can opt to join Bagosphere’s two-month BPO training program. Bagosphere boasts of having 90 percent of its graduates employed in the first week of program completion.
“We are leveraging on our expertise in communications and information technology to bring skills and training to the underprivileged sector of society so that they can also have a chance to a brighter future. The key task now is to monitor success of the Globe Hotline solution both in usage and effectiveness in improving the knowledge of our out-of-school youth. Later phases of the project will include expansion of lessons and modules, and usage propagation in the rural areas,” Cu said.
At present, there are 4.2 million out-of-school youth in the Philippines who lack resources, basic skills, and opportunities to improve their standard of living. In rural areas particularly, schools are too far away and with no Internet connectivity, leaving children and young adults with little or no access to online education or independent learning. As a result, OSYs find themselves staying below the poverty line and working in jobs offering less than the minimum wage.
Once the Globe Hotline becomes available commercially, Globe mobile service customers can gain convenient access to English training, acquire English fundamentals, and increase their employability. They only need to be equipped with any kind of mobile phone as well as cellular service.
For first time callers, they will undergo a 10-question diagnostic pre-test to assess their skills. After which, they will proceed to English training which has four lessons that make up the fundamentals for English proficiency such as parts of speech, parts of a sentence, listening and comprehension, and pronunciation. Each lesson has a lecture, practice module, and a test, to check the student’s mastery of the lesson.
Neil A. Alcober