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Sparking Hope

Virtualahan Inc.

1. No Poverty 3. Good Health and Well-Being 4. Quality Education 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 10. Reduced Inequalities

Overview

Virtualahan is a pioneer virtual school for disadvantaged people in the Philippines. The curriculum in Virtualahan offers a wide range of courses, including courses in Data Analysis, Web Development, Graphic Design, Video Editing – to name a few. Virtualahan aims to reach disadvantaged people and equip them with digital skills and be online professionals.

Author

Sarah Quinto

Sarah Quinto

School

De La Salle University

De La Salle University

Professor

Pia Manalastas

Pia Manalastas

Innovation

Virtualahan addresses five of the 17 SDGs. (Oliveros, 2021)

  • 1 – No Poverty
  • 3 – Good Health and Well-Being
  • 4 – Quality Education
  • 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 10 – Reduced Inequalities

For No Poverty, the institution seeks to create mindshare that disadvantaged people are not charity cases, can find means to support themselves. Moreover, Virtualahan promotes that underprivileged people can contribute big to society when given equal chances, thereby addressing Reduced Inequalities.

For Quality Education, Virtualahan equips students with digital skills to be online professionals. These digital skills seek to help students get employment after they graduate from the program - addressing UN’s SDG for Decent Work and Economic Growth.

Virtualahan also aims for Good Health and Well-Being. Aside from the skills, the school aims to increase students' self-confidence to bring back hope to pursue careers and fully equip the students for what's coming next.


Sparking Hope

Inspiration

The company started when the founder, Ryan Gersava, experienced discrimination because of his disability in employment. Ryan found out about a condition during a pre-employment medical exam, which caused him not to get the position. This incident motivated Ryan to help his family get out of poverty and help people with disabilities get out of discrimination.

Overall impact

During the interview, I asked Zeus how bad he thinks discrimination is in the country. Zeus said, “… it’s very bad. You know, it’s not just about the discrimination itself but because of the mindset [of people towards people with disabilities].” He shared stories on discrimination experienced by some students. There is a deaf student where an employer physically closed a door at him upon learning about his disability. Another student studying at another institution lost his scholarship when he had kidney failure. On the flip side, Virtualahan can change the lives of some students.

  • One student who washed clothes and dishes for a living was able to get employment after graduation. This student earns five times more now, and she can raise her daughter well.
  • One student got very sick, and his family strived to pay his bills and take care of him. This student saw how much his disability took a toll on his family and said to himself, "Eto na lang ba? (Is this all there is in my life?)." He was able to enroll in Virtualahan, and now he can support his family.
  • Another student who was in a car accident had 70% nerve paralysis and could not walk. He is not able to get a job and support his family. He “How can I sustain my family? How can we survive with my physical state?” Combined with his determination, desire to get better, and training in Virtualahan, he was able to master Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and other related skills. Right now, their family is more financially stable than ever, and he feels that he has reached the pursuit of financial and emotional success.

Business benefit

Zeus Oliveros had a disability and graduated from Virtualahan. At first, he was unaware of the school’s purpose and was just there to finish his schooling. However, through the institution’s methods, Zeus understood the cause and how it impacts society. Right after he graduated, he applied for a position in Virtualahan.

Virtualahan is currently working with both private and public organizations. In the private sector, they are working with a few companies that can augment the employment process to be more inclusive. Some of the projects they are working on are [email protected] and special classes for different social and cultural groups.

[email protected] is a multi-sensory learning environment for children with learning disabilities, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and those on the autism spectrum ([email protected], n.d.).

Virtualahan also provides special classes for different social and cultural groups like Indigenous People (IPs) and Islamized IPs, Out of School Youth/Youth NEET, Single Mothers/Solo Parents, Former Sex Workers, Recovering Drug Addicts/Former Drug Dependents, Persons Deprived of Liberty/Former Prisoners, Prostituted Women and Formerly Trafficked Individuals, Former Soldiers, Rebels, and Combatants.


Social and environmental benefit

Virtualahan aims to reach disadvantaged people and equip them with digital skills and be online professionals. These digital skills seek to help students get employment after they graduate from the program. Aside from these skills, the school aims to increase students' self-confidence to bring back hope to pursue careers and fully equip the students for what's coming next. The institution seeks to create a mindset that disadvantaged people are not charity cases, can find means to support themselves, and contribute significantly to society when given equal chances.

Virtualahan provides an impact formula and aims to have it replicated by other organizations. They are targeting 100 organizations with each to produce 100 graduates.

Interview

Zeus Exequiel Seth M. Oliveros, Chief of Staff

Photo of interviewee

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Virtualahan Inc.

Virtualahan Inc.

Davao City, NA, PH

Business Website: https://virtualahan.com

Year Founded: 2015

Number of Employees: 51 to 200

Virtualahan is a pioneer virtual school for disadvantaged people in the Philippines. The curriculum in Virtualahan offers a wide range of courses, including courses in Data Analysis, Web Development, Graphic Design, Video Editing – to name a few. Virtualahan aims to reach disadvantaged people and equip them with digital skills and be online professionals.

The word Virtualahan means virtual school and combines the words "virtual" and "escuelahan." Escuelahan is from the Spanish word escuela, meaning school.