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Banking and Financial Services

How UnionBank Is Pushing Digital Literacy In Public Schools

By Dave T. Devilles

Aboitiz-led Union Bank of the Philippines is blazing the sustainability trail in the banking sector via the digital way and one of its centerpiece programs is the partnership with Microsoft Philippines, which aims to boost digital literacy in public schools.

As the first private sector partner of Microsoft Philippines, UnionBank is breathing life to its purpose of co-creating innovation for a better world by enabling public school teachers to become digitally adept and pass on digital knowledge and skills to the students. UnionBank, ultimately, wants to transform the educational landscape in the Philippines. The partnership will not only equip educators with the right digital skills for teaching, it will also train students to become the country’s future-ready workforce.

The partnership is being fulfilled by UnionBank employees themselves who train as Microsoft Education Ambassadors, identify public schools that need a computer laboratory, and commit teaching hours transferring what they learned to the teachers.

Batch 2 of UnionBankers who trained under the Microsoft Education Ambassadors Program

The Microsoft Education Ambassadors (MEA) Program of Microsoft works primarily with the Department of Education (DepEd) to train public school teachers on the use of digital technologies to facilitate better classroom discussion and learning. More importantly, the program aims to foster a community of advocates of teaching with technology.

As Microsoft education ambassadors, UnionBank employees will serve as inspiration and valued resource persons for students and teachers. They possess the necessary expertise and skills to meet industry standards and can pass these on to the next generation.

– Michelle Rubio, UnionBank EVP Chief Human Resources Director

Through this partnership with Microsoft Philippines, UnionBank, ultimately, wants to transform the educational landscape in the Philippines. UnionBankers are not just equipping educators with the right digital skills for teaching, they are also training students to become the country’s future-ready workforce.

Tech Up Pilipinas

This people-centric digital technology partnership is part of the “Tech Up Pilipinas” thrust of UnionBank, which envisions a Filipino population that has a well developed information and computer technology skillset to help them become effective citizens in an increasingly digital world.

“This partnership is just one of the ways through which UnionBank creates technology-driven solutions to promote inclusive development.  As part of the Bank’s larger digital transformation thrust, UnionBank initiated Tech Up Pilipinas, a platform where technology firms and other like-minded organizations can collaborate to come up with digital solutions for everyday problems,” Ms. Rubio added.

UnionBankers as Digital Literacy Ambassadors

Under the program, UnionBankers will be trained on the use of various Microsoft tools and technologies that help improve productivity, classroom engagement, and learning outcomes. However, in order to graduate from the program, ambassadors must first adopt and train at least one public school. Today, UnionBank has produced 31 ambassadors who, collectively, have adopted at least 40 public schools nationwide.

Even if she has been doing recruitment for most of her life, Abeegail Caberte knows, deep in her heart, that she always wanted to be a teacher. “That is actually my childhood dream,” says Abeegail, now the Talent Acquisition Head at UnionBank of the Philippines.

So, when an opportunity presented itself through the Microsoft Education Ambassadors Program, Abeegail jumped on the chance to teach public school teachers some much-needed digital skills. “This opportunity gave me another avenue to do what I love,” shares Abeegail.

“In recruitment, it’s part of our job to go to schools, but mostly we talk to students. This time around, we talked to the teachers. And what I realized during that experience is that, the teachers are also like students—they also need nourishment. They also need to continuously learn, otherwise they will have nothing new to teach,” shares Abeegail, who graduated from the MEA Program on January 10, 2019. Together with other UnionBank ambassadors, Abeegail trained public school teachers in Addition Hills, Mandaluyong City.

A fellow graduate, Derrick J. Nicdao, the Performance and Quality Management Head at UnionBank, shares that his desire to give something back really pushed him to complete the MEA Program.

“It's not all about us being knowledgeable and prolific in the use of these systems,” says Derrick on the comprehensive training on different Microsoft tools and technologies. “It will all be useless if we are not able to share it with the people who can really benefit from the use of these systems.”

Giving Back to the Teachers

As a product of the public school system, Derrick has seen firsthand the multiplier effect when you properly equip and train public school teachers “I came from a public school—from elementary, high school, until college. I felt that giving back what I knew will be the best motivation to continuously learn something,” says Derrick of his experience.

According to Microsoft Philippines, the Philippines has around 600,000 teachers, some of whom are in dispersed and isolated islands across the country. Public school teachers, in particular, often have an extra burden due to lack of governmental support for additional training, materials, and facilities.

Bea Rona, UnionBank Talent Acquisition Officer adopted Guitnang Bayan Elementary School in San Mateo, Rizal Province as part of her commitment to the program.

This partnership gives UnionBankers the opportunity to give back to the schools and the teachers that helped shape them into the professionals they are today. Aside from providing training to teachers, UnionBankers also donate computer hardware, educational software, and other digital technologies to their adopted public schools.

“So, this is not just a one-time activity for us. Our long-term plan is to establish a formal structure wherein we will be able to conduct this training so that as we learn, we are also able to help someone else,” added Derrick.

Transforming the Educational Landscape

But beyond giving back to teachers and public schools, the goal of UnionBank’s partnership with Microsoft is transformation.

To date, there are over 1,700 Microsoft Education Ambassadors nationwide, all of whom are advocating teaching with digital technologies in various parts of the country.

Indeed, real and lasting pursuit of transformation can only begin when company values meet personal values. “This is the start of the fulfilment of my dream to become a teacher someday,” quips Abeegail. “When I’m finished with my corporate life, you will see me teaching.”