Schools in the Philippines were impacted by one of the world’s longest lockdowns during the Covid pandemic. During this time the Diploma Programme (DP) and Career-related Programme (CP) students at the German European School, Manila, asked themselves, “What can we do from our homes to generate some excitement for our fellow students?” Following several brainstorming sessions with teachers and classmates, the idea of a virtual university fair was conceived.
As the idea blossomed, students and teachers were also curious to know how the students in the local government schools were coping with restrictions and were keen to offer support, especially in their higher education efforts.
The organization team collaborated with the Department of Education, the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany Manila, Bridge-u, and German Academic Exchange Service as they developed their plans. They also wrote to more than 50 universities across the globe asking them to participate.
The event attracted 25 universities from 13 countries in 2020 and by 2021 36 universities from 15 countries participated. Over 800 students benefited from the events over the two-year period.
During the process, the students got naturally involved in achieving various CAS (creativity, activity, service) learning outcomes, reflecting, and further developing the attributes of our IB learner profile as well as using and enhancing their ATL (approaches to learning) skills. The communication, design, brainstorming, and event day itself taught the students to become global citizens and contribute to improving the situation for many learners during the global crisis and beyond.
The students recognized the need to help other students in the local private and government schools. Through this project, we were able to help local students gain access to international higher education. We also managed to raise some money through sponsorships which was used to provide laptops and document cameras to the students at the local schools.
The event gained traction with the media as it was featured in the Manila Times and the Pop inquirer. This project was also exhibited at the IB Asia-Pacific virtual conference 2021 as a best-practice example of a successful student CAS project.
Rasesh Barot started his IB diploma during the peak of the Covid outbreak back in 2020 at the German European School Manila, Philippines. Despite the challenges of remote learning, he earned his IB diploma with 42 points in 2022. He grew up in three different countries and is now pursuing a degree in Computer Science in Western University Canada. He was one of the active organizers of the virtual university fair in 2020 and 2021. Rasesh values his multicultural learning experience and is committed to creating a more objectivist and open society.
Santanu Bhowmik is the head of DP & CP at the German European School Manila, Philippines. He is primarily a mathematics teacher and has worked in three countries as CAS coordinator, DP coordinator, CP coordinator, head of mathematics, IGCSE coordinator and head of section. He has carried out various IBEN roles such as consultant, school visit team leader, workshop facilitator and examiner for mathematics. He conceived the idea of a student-led virtual university fair amid the COVID outbreak and online learning to give his students a purpose to carry on.