Members of the academe have vowed to “continue to build knowledge on volunteering” and “to lobby for more support from government.”
The statements were contained in a White Paper and a Manifesto issued by participants at the end of the first National Conference on the Engagement of the Academe in Volunteering (NCEAV). Organized with the Australian Agency for International Development, Miriam College and VSO Bahaginan, the conference aimed to increase the participation of schools, colleges and universities in volunteer work.
The academe has long served different sectors of society, with schools often serving as venues for civic engagements.
With the theme “Promoting the Scholarship of Engagement. Charting New Paths,” NCEAV was a step toward recognizing formally their roles in nation-building.
The conference was in line with Republic Act No. 9418, “Volunteer Act of 2007,” which provides that “[v]olunteerism in the [a]cademe includes, but is not limited to, provision of technical assistance and sharing of technology within the academic circle, target communities and other clienteles.”
The academe is also to help in the “upgrading of the quality of education and curriculum methodologies while providing career enhancement and exposure to the volunteers.”
NCEAV aimed to understand better the country’s volunteering landscape and the academe’s role. It also examined the “fundamental and emerging issues about volunteering by the academe to share good practices and case studies.”
The conference hoped to create a “community of practice” and help build a stronger and inclusive voluntary sector that recognized the impact and value of volunteering.
Endorsed by the Commission on Higher Education and the Department of Education, NCEAV brought together nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and about 300 participants from 15 colleges and universities.
Speakers from the government, academe, NGOs, donor agencies, etc. provided insights on volunteering in the academic sector.
They also shared ideas on different volunteering programs and approaches.
Aside from the plenary, breakout sessions were also held on such topics as “Promoting the Scholarship of Engagement, Volunteering and the Philippine Development Plan,” “Active Citizenship and the Role of the Academe,” “Public-Private Partnerships: The Case of the Academe in Volunteering” and “Partnerships for Volunteering: Academe-Local Government Collaboration.”
Dr. Rosario Lapus, president of Miriam College, said “a very big part” of their school’s mission was “to move volunteering forward.” She said Miriam had the capabilities to do volunteer work.
Jay Neil Ancheta, program officer of VSO Bahaginan, said the academe was seen as a “strategic player in the volunteering landscape” because of its “large constituency, strong shared values and principles, research and technical expertise, and established partnerships with communities,” among others.
But Ancheta stressed that “volunteering [in the academe] is beyond provision of expertise.”
Through NCEAV, the academic community found a venue to gain new knowledge in developing volunteering programs adapted to its population and a platform to network with industries and organizations.
It also provided the academe opportunities to harness volunteerism among the youth and to encourage them to become catalysts of change in their communities.
“Volunteerism has to be systematic,” said Malou Panua-Juanito, executive director of VSO Bahaginan. She said, whether it was in the academe or big companies, there was a need for people specifically trained in coordinating, handling and managing volunteer work.
Lapus said Miriam was offering, as a major corporate social responsibility, training for future volunteer managers and development workers.