Sadly, the social and economic disparities of third world countries often lead to an unequal standard of education, leaving many bright minds unable to afford even basic schooling. Because of this, several organizations have risen up to combat this social issue. One of these groups, Pathways to Higher Education, is a volunteer group that seeks to provide educational opportunities for talented but underprivileged students.

Pathways to Higher Education, the brainchild of a collaboration between Ateneo de Manila University and the Ford Foundation, has always aimed to help economically-disadvantaged students gain access to higher education since their inception back in 2001. Since then, Pathways to Higher Education has aided more than 100 students on the poverty line from all over the Philippines in entering first-rate colleges and universities to receive the education they deserve but cannot afford.

Recently, USC Pathways, the Cebu chapter of Pathways to Higher Education, won the award for Most Outstanding UNESCO Best Clubs of the Philippines during this year’s International Assembly of Youth for UNESCO Clubs last Sept. 21-23 at the University of Santo Tomas, Manila. The National Association of UNESCO Clubs in the Philippines (NAUCP) hosted the 2015 International Assembly of Youth for UNESCO with the theme of ASEAN Integration and Sustainable Development Goals, aiming for the event to act as a pathway for the development of young men and women who uphold the values of excellence, responsibility, proactivity, and social commitment, all within context of the event’s theme: “ASEAN Integration Towards Sustainable Development”.

USC Pathways was represented by Christian Dave Baclayon (Current President, BS ComSci III), Emmanuel Suarez (Vice President-External, BSCE-II), and Jason H. Cubero (Former Vice President-External, BS-APhys-V) during the youth assembly. The NAUCP awarded USC Pathways for their dedication in upholding the value of education as well as their innovative ideas in promoting personal success in academics. Their energy and leadership were recognized by the assembly, and they fully engaged themselves in social development and supported the ideals of the NAUCP to the best of their abilities.

The three-day assembly opened up with a challenge for the youth delegates to be active and reliable partners for change and to bring the ideals and aspirations of UNESCO closer to their homes and communities. The event also served as the drafting of a resolution by the delegates that would embody the ideals and action plans of youth leaders in the country, especially concerning the three main priorities that the assembly wished to tackle this year – climate change, human rights, and future educational agendas. ­­

There was a panel discussion in which guest speakers from all across the nation were invited to speak before the delegates, composed of high school students, college students, teachers and educators. The youth delegates discussed the topics of ASEAN Integration and the UN Sustainable Development Goals with the keynote speakers in an open forum held during the discussion. Afterwards, the youth delegates were given the opportunity to showcase their ideas and talents during simultaneous poster making, quiz bowl, essay writing and poem writing competitions. Winners in the simultaneous competitions also included Carolinians such as: Quennie Paring – Essay Writing Competition (1st Place), Christian Dave Baclayon and Jason Cubero – Quiz bowl (2nd prize), and Emmanuel Suarez – Poster Making Contest (2nd prize).

All of the accredited UNESCO Clubs from all over the nation gathered at the assembly to empower other member organizations in engaging all UNESCO-related projects and programs, and to witness the accreditation of more than 30 new additional UNESCO clubs. The president of NAUCP, Alein Navares, in his keynote speech to the assembly, urged the newly accredited clubs to strengthen their bonds with the other UNESCO clubs as they collaborate with one another in the near future.

The event was wrapped up with the awarding of Outstanding UNESCO club leaders and organizations for their significant contributions to the assembly as a whole, and their role in advancing the goals and aspirations of the NAUCP.

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