Last month, more than 400 youth leaders from across the Philippines participated in an online multistakeholder workshop hosted by the Department of Finance and the National Economic and Development Authority to discuss and recommend a list of actions to restart and strengthen the economy following the COVID-19 shutdown.
Having overtaken Viet Nam in the early 2000s as the second most populous economy in South East Asia with a population of 106 million – 64% of which is between the ages of 15-24 – the Philippines faces one of its most challenging economic periods in recent history. And it’s heartening to see, as a youth ambassador, that its current leaders are seeking input from its future leaders who will inherit the outcomes.
Figure 1 — Population size of those aged 15-24 for economies in South East Asia (World Bank).
Among the 10 recommendations pitched by the group was the need to improve Internet infrastructure and connectivity, as well as ensure proper and flexible training amid social distancing limitations that are expected to be in force for many more months to come.
As it so happened, engineering students from the Institute of Electronics Engineers of the Philippines (IECEP), the youth volunteer arm of the Philippine Network Operators Group (PhNOG), were in the midst of organizing an online seminar to achieve just this.
Beginning today, students from several schools, colleges and universities who have a keen interest in computer networking, will be tuning in to the seminar, which will include an online tutorial on IPv6, co-facilitated with APNIC, as well as a group discussion on pursuing a career in the ICT industry.
Understanding IPv6 is a key lesson for upcoming network engineers as it will be the protocol they will be using in the future, and by developing their skills from early on it’s hoped they won’t point to its difference to IPv4 as a reason for not deploying or understanding it when the time comes. It’s also hoped that this will be the first of many online tutorials to up-skill the next generation in not only the technology but also the community too.
The student chapter of IECEP has been actively volunteering in various Internet-related events, including the annual PhNOG Conference in the National Capital Region (NCR) for the last four years. Members of the chapter gain valuable experience during these volunteer stints, as they are made aware of the ins and outs of network operations — hearing stories from the Internet’s who’s who.
This time, away from their usual seats at the registration tables, students are taking the lead by providing learning opportunities to their peers, similar to how NOGs incentivize knowledge-sharing and the spirit of volunteerism. John Gilbert Ora’a, Chairperson of IECEP Quezon City Student Chapter (QCSC), views this seminar as an opportunity, “…to make better use of time spent online, and to dedicate a healthy portion of it for learning through the Internet.”
IECEP and APNIC will also be supporting the online-only conference of PhNOG this July — details will be announced in the coming weeks via the PhNOG Facebook Group.
In the new normal, these soon-to-be engineers will keep the Internet from breaking. Multistakeholder opportunities provided to youth and industry to plan for and action government programs such as the National ICT Ecosystem Framework (NICTEF) and the above mentioned COVID-19 roadmap discussion, coupled with the government-led broadband infrastructure and free Internet program, the rise of alternative connectivity and community networks, and the entry of a new major public telecommunications player in the Philippine market, demand for young talent will be exceptionally high as the world ushers in this constant dependence on the Internet.
Stay up to date with future seminars via the IECEP Quezon City Student Chapter Facebook Page.
Benjz Gerard M. Sevilla is Director of IECEP, Co-Chair of PhNOG and Executive Staff of Department of Information and Communications Technology, Philippines.
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