By James Smith | 8 July 2020
There are important university assessment tasks, and there are those that carry the weight of not just a final grade, but an entire community.
Vallerie Cabico, from San Fernando Papanga, in the Philippines, is a Federation University Masters student with Australian Technical and Management College (ATMC). Vallerie and her assessment team-mates Narendra Goli, Vivek Thakur and Sandeep Singh recently completed a development project set by ATMC to provide a solution to problems faced by African-Australian children lack educational support.
“The purpose of the AAMEYS Digital Homework Support Club is to provide a web-based platform for parents, students, volunteer teachers, and administrators to collaborate and assist young children from disadvantaged backgrounds to participate in the education system and have a better future,” says Maria.
The homework group has been run by a non-government organisation, African-Australian Multicultural Employment and Youth Services (or AAMEYS), for the past decade. Dr Berhan Ahmed, AAMEYS CEO, was desperate for disadvantaged and marginalised students supported by his organisation not to fall further behind than they already are, especially in these uncertain times.
“Most of our kids come to us from a refugee background; from very poor backgrounds socially and economically,” he says. “When they arrive in Australia, they are placed in school based on their age, not their academic level. For example, if they are 14 years old, they’ll send you to grade seven or eight, but their academic level might be of a grade-two standard.
“Such a gap is creating a crisis in the educational development of these children. Projects like the homework website which the ATMC students worked on, will help maintain a pipeline of continual support.”
Vallerie, originally a registered architect in The Philippines, threw herself into the homework club website project just as passionately as she did her new-found life as an IT-industry aspirant upon arriving in Australia a few years ago.
“AAMEYS already had a program called the Homework Support Club, but they wanted it to be digitalised. This program needed an upgraded system in order to adapt to the digitalization in education and the rise of continuous learning as well as to provide ease of access to African-Australian families seeking assistance with their children’s education."
“It's a system where the students, parents and volunteers can register online and connect with each other without the need for face to face meetings.”
Vallerie, who was the project manager and team leader, says the secret to her working group’s success in producing a fully functioning web-portal was taking the project a lot more seriously than a mere assessment task. “This project we have been working on is an actual project – we were doing the type of work professionals in the IT world would carry out. AAMEYS gave us hope and inspiration that education is for everyone."
“During this course our supervisors encouraged us to be creative, to use different kinds of software to the programs which the university might offer. This allowed us to gain even more insight and more experience into the real-life role of an IT professional.”
Vallerie says just because the project has been handed in and her group’s mark handed back (an HD and a GPA of seven if you don’t mind), like true professionals, their work is never done.
“The project doesn't stop with the submission of our final mark,” says Vallerie. “We have continuous communication with the client. They have asked us if we can work on another project with ATMC and I have already begun coordinating this with our Project Supervisor at ATMC Abbas Shaik, who has been amazingly supportive of us.”
News of the completed project, as well as the passionate dedication of Vallerie and her groupmates, was well and truly welcomed by Chair and Founder of ATMC, Dr Manish Malhotra. “I am extremely proud that our ATMC students have not only displayed commitment and professionalism in their studies with us, but have also gone above and beyond in their pursuit of solving a real-life community problem currently being faced by refugees and marginalised students in Australia.”
About Work Integrated Learning (WIL)
ATMC offers Work Integrated Learning (WIL) opportunities to its students through Capstone Industry Projects embedded in their curriculum. Students work on real Information Technology (IT) and Information Systems (IS) projects for real-world client. These projects provide platform for students to apply the skills developed within the classrooms to build IT solutions that add value to client organisations