WHAT does the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Integration really mean for the youth, and what is their role in making it happen? For students of Cebu Normal University (CNU) and Singapore Polytechnic, it means collaborating with each other to help improve the lives of the people in their community.

CNU, in partnership with Singapore Polytechnic, recently completed the 4th Cebu Learning Express (LEX) with a Gallery Walk last April 11. The Gallery Walk is the presentation of the different innovative solutions that strive to meet the needs of the community. The innovations were created by teams composed of CNU and SP students from different courses for over two weeks.

For CNU officials and students, the project is a realization of the Asean Integration. “As a member of the Asean, we should collaborate with each other in order to provide more innovations for the improvement of the services that we have, and solve existing community problems in collaboration with other Asean countries,” said Dr. Jezyl Cutamora, dean of the College of Nursing and LEX Master Trainer.

The Cebu Learning Express began last April 2, where selected CNU students from different disciplines were teamed up with students sent by Singapore Polytechnic. To be part of LEX, the students must apply and undergo an extensive screening process as there are only limited slots. The students, who are all in third year college, got to participate for free and were sponsored by Singapore Polytechnic.

“This is a social innovation program that involves both Singapore Polytechnic students from different courses, different departments and Cebu Normal University students from different departments as well,” Cutamora explained.

Immersion

There were three teams in this year’s LEX. The students immersed themselves in the community chosen by both schools. The students researched and focused on looking for specific problem areas in the community and came up with concrete and practical innovations with prototypes that could address these problems. During the culmination, the groups invited the stakeholders of the community and explained the solutions they came up with.

“It is an application and implementation of design thinking pedagogy. In this process, we aim to have innovation projects based on community problems. They immerse to understand what the existing problems are, then they go through the process of immersion in the culture and environment and discuss what could be the possible solution in close collaboration with the community. Then they provide a prototype of what they think is the probable solution and then invite again the users and then present to them what we have and let them comment to improve what we have,” said Cutamora.

This year, the chosen community was Barangay Labangon in Cebu City.

Innovation

The first group’s creation was called a Fetal Tone Heart Monitoring, a device that is connected to a mobile application that can detect any problem with the fetus inside the pregnant mother. It was created to address the increasing mortality rate among pregnant women and to improve the assistance that health centers may be able to provide. With the device, the group hopes to immediately let the doctors and nurses know what the problem is so they can decide what course of action to take, rather than subject a pregnant woman to several tests.

The second group created Contextualized Instructional Materials, which they hope will address the teachers’ difficulty in creating instructional materials. The prototype proposed was a more organized media center for grades one to three teachers where they could share their materials and brainstorm.

The media center conceptualized by the students included the arrangement of the materials and the available equipment and facilities that may be used by the teachers.

The third group provided a solution called Sustainable Food Products and Technologies, which aims to address the health and sanitation concerns of Siomai sa Tisa vendors. The group provided a prototype of a box that contains the materials needed to improve Siomai sa Tisa booths in Labangon, and to help the barangay implement existing ordinance in food safety and cleanliness in establishments.

“This is something that the community should see as an initiative of CNU to really internalize the Asean integration because it is not something written only in the books. CNU, as one of the leading institutions of the Philippines, is doing something for the realization of those strategies,” said Cutamora.

The culmination was attended by representatives of the Commission on Higher Education, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Health, and other stakeholders such as the siomai vendors, teachers and officials of Barangay Labangon.