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Pinoy wins World Summit Awards in creating virtual school for PWDs


For the first time, a Filipino topped the World Summit Awards (WSA) Global Champion under the Young Innovators category for 2020 with his virtual school for persons with disabilities and other disadvantaged sectors.

In a statement on Thursday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said 26-year old Ryan Gersava from Sultan Kudarat bested over 407 entries from 91 countries for establishing “Virtualahan.”

 

The 2020 World Summit Awards (WSA) Global Champion under Young Innovators category Ryan Gersava (right) with World Summit Awards Chairman Mr. Peter A. Bruck (left).
The 2020 World Summit Awards (WSA) Global Champion under Young Innovators category Ryan Gersava (right) with World Summit Awards Chairman Mr. Peter A. Bruck (left). --WSA Photo

This pioneering virtual school equips persons with disabilities and members of other disadvantaged groups with digital skills and a mindset to become competitive employees and entrepreneurs.

“Integrating life coaching with career guidance and leadership development, Virtualahan harnessed the power of technology to give people a fair fighting chance to get out of poverty,” DFA said.

According to the DFA, Gersava is the first Filipino to win in WSA.

“His firsthand experience of being denied access to better employment opportunities due to a chronic medical condition provided the impetus for him to find a social enterprise that specifically caters to marginalized sectors such as out of school youth, solo parents, recovering drug addicts, and former sex workers,” DFA said.

Currently, Virtualahan produced more than 350 graduates, with a 78 percent employment rate.

Philippine Ambassador to Austria Maria Cleofe R. Natividad said Gersava’s victory is well-deserved especially “at a time when our country and the world are in need of hope and inspiration.”

A few days before the lockdown due to the coronavirus disease 2019, the awarding ceremony was held in Vienna, Austria on March 11.

“By making it your life’s work to create opportunities for the disadvantaged – as only someone who has personally overcome hardships can – you have set an excellent example of passion and perseverance for the Filipino youth,” Natividad said.

“Your story is both challenge and testament – a reminder that the empowerment of the marginalized is an imperative of a just and humane society; and a proof that the human spirit triumphs over the human condition,” she added.

The WSA Young Innovators is a special recognition for young entrepreneurs under 26 years of age, who use digital innovation as a way of tackling the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, DFA said. —Joviland Rita/LBG, GMA News

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