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  • Public High School Students With Disabilities Win Awards In IT Competition In South Korea

    They won medals in different categories like video making and robotics.
    by Kitty Elicay .
Public High School Students With Disabilities Win Awards In IT Competition In South Korea
PHOTO BY courtesy of Paolo Espiritu
  • Different but capable. That’s what four public high school students with disabilities proved when they took home five gold medals and six silver medals in the recently held Global IT (Information Technology) Challenge for Youth with Disabilities (GITC) in Busan, South Korea last November 25-29, 2019.

    The Philippine team bested 19 countries and won the Best Award in the the eContent Challenge (Video Making). They also got an Excellence Award (silver medal) in the eCreative Challenge where they had to assemble, program, and maneuver a robot car.

    The team consists of Valenzuela National High School’s Florenz Jaime Fernandez, who has low vision, and Keith Rafael Ignacio who has a learning disability; Manila High School’s Karl Francis Du, who is deaf; and General Pio Del Pilar National High School’s Ace Benedict Dayto, who has a motor disability.

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    Two students also got individual medals in different categories. Fernandez was named the 2019 Global IT Leader after he got the highest individual points accumulated from all contests. He also got an Excellence Award for the eLifemap Challenge (web browsing). Du got a silver medal for the eTool challenge (PowerPoint and Excel).

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    The competition was hosted by Rehabilitation International, an international non-government organization that aims to “promote persons with disabilities’ (PWDs) access to technology, education, and decent employment.”

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    National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) officer-in-charge Mateo Lee Jr. told ABS-CBN News that it was one of their best years yet since joining the annual competition 20 years ago.

    “Oftentimes, the public sees persons with disabilities as charity cases, hard to train, and with no skills,” Lee said. “Our success here shows that we can be globally competitive.”

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    The four winning students are joined by trainers Sarah Acero (far left) and Engr. Paolo Espiritu (far right) of AGHAM Educators.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Paolo Espiritu
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    The four students were chosen from a pool of students who participated in a national IT competition. They then had to go through two weeks of training for advance web search, office tools, and movie making, programming, and robotics.

    Engr. Paolo Espiritu, Education & Training Committee Chair of AGHAM (Advocates of Science and Technology for the People) Educators and who was tapped to train the students in robotics says he calls the team, “super-able.”

    “Karl, the one with hearing impairment, programs the robot so well. In the end, his robot was faster than mine. Perhaps because he has super focus when he works,” Espiritu shares in an interview with SmartParenting.com.ph via Facebook Messenger. “Keith assembles and disassembles the robot super fast. He has autism and he is hyperfocused.”

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    Lee points out that technology now allows persons with disabilities (PWDs) to be skilled and self-sufficient. “We are part of society. And IT plays a big part in allowing persons with disabilities to have livelihood,” he says, adding that PWDs are able to work at home with the help of technology.

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    Through this achievement, Lee says they are now working with local government units to give children with disabilities more opportunities to hone their skills in the field of IT. In the future, they hope for LGUs to give exceptional students scholarships for college.

    Espiritu believes and agrees that children with disabilities should be given more opportunities especially in the field of information technology. “Keith wants to be an engineer but they’re not sure if he can take it,” he shares. “[But] As an electronics engineer myself and having seen their performance, I am confident they can learn engineering.”

    This article was edited on December 7, 2019 at 1:14 a.m.

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