Jeepney, the most popular mode of transportation in Philippines that came into being post World War II is all set to move the country forward for the second time. The Jeepney occupies a very special place in the Philippine culture – originally made from the left over US Military Jeeps, adorned with flamboyant colors and artwork, Jeepney not only redefined transportation but also stands as a symbol of the creativity and innovativeness of the Filipino people.
Two young Filipinos are now plying on this very iconic symbol to redefine education. They want to convert Jeepneys into mobile science and tech labs for public schools in remote areas. Majority of the public schools in Philippines do not have science labs and the few with the labs are scared to use the equipments with the fear of breaking them, as per the founders of this project. Realizing the importance of hands-on learning, while not only fun, also results in higher retention of the concepts learnt in class, Shaina Tantuico and Erika Pineda, started, JeepneED. As Jeepney inherently can accommodate a lot of people and are suited for all road types, they couldn’t think of a better medium to get to the rural schools.
The project kickstarted with a Kickstarter campaign in 2010 which enabled them to get their first Jeepney ready. They’ve equipped the vehicle with 10 laptops, printer, scanner, a projector, and other basic science materials along with 2 facilitators. Powered by environment-friendly vegetable oil, they’ve driven down the Jeepney to Sarangani Province (one of the poorest regions of the country) serving 5 schools, reaching out to over 1000 children weekly. To be able to sustain the project, JeepneED charges a minimal rate, 5 peso/student/session and are exploring additional sources of revenue. Boosted by the success of their pilot, the founders now plan to add 3 more Jeepneys for the next school year, reaching out to 3 out of 5 municipalities of Sarangani Province.
When asked what led to the success of their Kickstarter campaign, the project was overfunded by 117%, a week before the due date, Erika and Shaina proudly claimed it was due to the support of their countrymen. An article in the national newspaper, greatly helped draw people’s attention to the project. Identifying with the national symbol Jeepney and the need for educational reform, Filipinos came all out to fund this project.