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Monday, November 28, 2011

Public Relations Program: SWEEP, Out of the Classroom, Into the Communities

I have to admit, when I received this assignment from my professor (Dr. Ong) for my Public Relations class, I got excited because I was a product of this CSR program by SMART and I know from experience what goes on in the program. 

Just a quick background, SWEEP stands for SMART Wireless Engineering Education Program and it's a program designed to help schools (which SMART chose for themselves) improve it's ECE (Electronics and Communications Engineering) course. 

Anyway, here's my report on this award winning program. 

1.    To strengthen and project to the public Smart’s beneficial relationship with SWEEP partner schools and universities.
2.    To enhance SMART’s image as technology innovation advocate in the tertiary schools.
3.    To improve the level of technology and engineering education in the country, particularly in the field of Electronics and Communications Engineering (ECE).


PRIMARY: Partner Schools and Universities, the Engineering Faculty and the Electronics and Communications (ECE) Students
SECONDARY: Other Program Stakeholders (The Community, Gawad Kalinga, PHILVOCS, DENR, Philippine Red Cross, Industry Experts like CISCO and Trend.Nets)


  • SWEEP Partner School - SMART will equip the partner school with a wireless laboratory that can be used by the Engineering Department for the development of communications technology and enhancing the school’s ECE program. 
  • The Engineering Faculty - SMART will provide a continuing education program and periodically deploys SMART engineers to provide lectures on the practical application of telecommunication technologies to the faculty. 
  •  ECE Students - ECE students will have first-hand exposure to the practical experience of SMART engineers in building and operating the country’s digital mobile phone network. They are also given an opportunity to showcase their innovativeness through the annual SWEEP Excellence Awards. SMART ensures that the ECE Graduates of SWEEP partner schools are better equipped to work in the telecommunications industry. Students with high potential to work in the telecoms industry are recruited by SMART to be part of the PLDT network. 
  •  The Community - SMART will help roll out projects geared towards helping the communities being supported by the SWEEP Partner Schools in partnership with other foundations (Gawad Kalinga and Phil. Red Cross) and government agencies (DENR, PHILVOCS).
  •  Program Partners - SMART will provide the manpower in rolling out various programs from these different agencies by tapping the SMART SWEEP partner schools. Either providing students for performing tree-planting activities, or donating blood for red cross or the faculty to mentor public schools teachers on ICT. 
  •  Industry Experts - Partnering with SMART will enable the industry experts to take advantage of the wide network of schools it has established in order to introduce their products through educating the faculty administrators and students. Partners like CISCO and Trends.Net Inc. teams up with SMART to share knowledge and experience of configuring network devices. 

1.    Provision of a wireless laboratory that helps students and faculty members in partner schools study cellular technology.
2.    A continuing education program in the form of a. in-house training; b. on-the-job training; c. faculty immersion program. And d. tie-up with industry experts.
3.    The SWEEP Innovation and Excellence Awards – an annual awards program that encourages engineering students and faculty to come up with innovative wireless applications designed to assist schools and communities.
4.    SWEEP website ( Launched in November 2006, the wbsite contains information about SWEEP.
5.    Recruitment of industry-ready graduates for various positions within the PLDT Group. 

6.    Education Partnerships
                i.    Train the faculty as trainers in the Smart Schools Program[1]
               ii.    Offer the Smart IT elective subject (Enterprise Web Application Development) for SWEEP partner schools. 
              iii.    Establishment of 1st training institute in Asia dedicated to telecommunications (Smart Center for Resource Enhancement & Advanced Telecom Education)
7.    Community Building - SMART has started tapping SWEEP partner schools to help establish livelihood programs for PLDT-SMART Amazing GK Villages[2] built in partnership with the GawadKalinga Foundation nationwide.
8.    Tree-planting efforts in the Provinces[3] - in partnership with DENR.
9.    Emergency Preparedness & Disaster-Response[4]
                i.    Tie-up with Philippine National Red Cross (annual blood-letting activity)
               ii.    Tie-up with PHIVOLCS for research and development of low-cost monitoring systems.

  1. For year 2007, 43 teachers have undergone Faculty Immersion. Industry tie-ups have also resulted in training at least 40 engineering teachers nationwide.
  2. Through the SMART SWEEP school network, Smart has trained 500 SWEEP faculties to train and mentor 5,000 public high school teachers under the Smart Schools Program in basic ICT.
  3. It was also able to tap at least three SWEEP partner schools in helping build houses and establish livelihood programs for seven PLDT-SMART GK Villages.
  4. SWEEP partner schools have planted 100,000 tree seedlings under the Trees for Life campaign of the Department of Environment & Natural Resources.
  5. Smart was able to involve partner schools in the VisMin run of Smart’s annual blood-letting activity.
  6. SWEEP partner schools have been mobilized by Smart & PHIVOLCS to research and develop low-cost remote monitoring systems that can be used for earthquake monitoring, tsunami detection, seismic data transmission and meteorological monitoring.

·         SMART introduced the mobile apps category for the 8th SWEEP Awards. The mobile applications category is a new category designed to encourage the development of mobile applications that run on the Android platform.
·         SMART expanded the program by offering SWEEP Scholars. This is a scholarship program designed to get the top graduating students for 2011-2012 under the ECE and IT programs.
·         SMART continues to expand the reach of the Smart Wireless Laboratories. Recent schools that partnered with Smart: Mapua, Angeles University Foundation, De La Salle Canlubang, UST, and Colegio de Dagupan.

Looking at the results, SMART was able to take advantage of SWEEP to push for their other CSR programs. Through the SWEEP partner schools and universities, SMART was able to mobilize their other programs thus meeting their objective to strengthen and project to the public SMART’s beneficial relationship with these schools.
However, isolating SWEEP and its core initiatives, it doesn’t have a sustaining program for the winning entry on the SWEEP Awards aside from granting the winning school a cash prize of PHP500,000. What normally happens is that the winning projects are set aside after the program and the universities focus for the next annual competition. If SWEEP aims to improve the level of engineering education as part of its objectives, it should have a program that allows these innovations to be integrated in the curriculum of the ECE course.
And also, if SMART wants to have an image as a technology innovation advocate, they should take advantage of these winning projects and use it to help the communities that it was intended for since the SWEEP Awards main theme has always been innovations that can help the community.
Realizing that IT education in the country still has much room for improvement, SMART, as a leading company in the country that applies IT technologies, wants to make a contribution to the development of IT learning. Given the fast pace of change in IT, there is a need to marry what the schools teach and what the industry needs. Therefore, there is a great opportunity for SWEEP to make an impact not only for the current partner schools but for other potential partner schools. This move has already been set into motion by introducing a new category in the SMART Awards: Mobile Apps for Android Category.
On a business sense, Smart’s company objective is truly to be the measure and standard of leadership in everything they do – communication & technology. Through SWEEP, Smart will have access to fresh talents & ideas that could bring technological innovation for Smart’s advancement in the industry if all the programs were implemented strategically & effectively.
The group also believes that this program is a strategic move in covering the areas that their competitors are still not present. SMART is known to have the widest coverage and covering these provincial locations via the support of these schools (setting up the cellular site in schools to cover the area VS scouting and renting private space), they can expand their networks and therefore being able to be the first network provider in that area.
            It is also a smart move for the company to tie-up with PHIVOLCS since SMART can take advantage of getting real-time seismic reports that they can potentially use for their value added services for their customers in the form of announcements and advisories like what they did with PAGASA for real-time weather reports.
            Overall, the group believes that it is a good program that SMART needs to continue and look for ways to improve it to be beneficial both for its target publics and for their company.

[1]The Smart Schools Program is community service initiatives of SMART that promotes information and communication technology in basic education through partnerships with public schools.