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In partnership with SMART Telecommunications, five student developers from the University’s Institute of Computing (USeP-IC) tested the Gnarè B’laan application, a literacy mobile application containing digitized lessons on basic and functional literacy using the B’laan tribal language, at Calay Indigenous Peoples School in Malapatan, Sarangani province on July 11, 2019.

Joshua James Cabrera, Abdul Rahim Jumlani, Michael Juanito Regis Jr., Shiela Joy Regis and Jonard Tanilon, all senior students of the Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (BSIT) program, introduced the product of their month-long development to its intended users: the young learners of the B’laan community. The B’laan learners navigated through the different learning modules of the application with the guidance of the USeP-IC developers. The primary school pupils from Grades 1 to 3 were visibly engrossed as they completed exercises, watched cultural videos and animations and played educational games via the application.

The main objective of the field test was to gather relevant information on the usability, content, aesthetics and functionality of the application via assessing the young learners’ reception of the application and subjecting to the evaluation of the validation committee. Representatives from different partner entities such as Department of Education-Sarangani, Sulong TRIBU of Sarangani, Sulong Karunungan, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Region XII and Provincial Tribal Council composed the validation committee. The committee generally gave a positive review of the application and also provided comments and suggestions for further application polishing before the official application launch. One member of the committee who is a B’laan herself said that the application is a very useful tool in acquainting her young son with the B’laan culture.    

Technicality aside, the field testing activity allowed the young USeP-IC developers to see beyond lines of programming code and experience firsthand how they can positively impact the society in their own little way. According to the developers, the short immersion strengthened their appreciation and respect for cultural diversity while opening their eyes to the lingering educational needs of remote tribal communities. Michael Anthony Jandayan, faculty member of USeP-IC and the student developers’ adviser for this project, said that such immersion will go a long way in instilling the core values of USeP into the student developers. 

“It is easy for students to focus more on striving to be excellent professionals while losing sight of becoming a unifying agent by being good stewards to our less privileged countrymen. This activity is a good way to remind these students that sometimes in order to achieve unity, stewardship, excellence and professionalism must go hand in hand”, Mr. Jandayan said.  

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