Ms. Frances Cruz (left) and Ms. Janina Tan present their paper on assisting Philippine return migrants through mobile technology.

The Foreign Service Institute hosted Frances Antoinette Cruz and Janina Clare Tan, graduate students from the University of the Philippines Diliman, at the Carlos P. Romulo School of Diplomacy on 4 November 2015 for their presentation “Assisting the Reintegration of Philippine Return Migrants through Mobile Technology,” part of the Institute’s Mabini Dialogue Series.

They presentation featured how mobile technology can be used by policy makers to assess and consolidate information about the needs of return migrants to the Philippines.

According to Ms. Cruz and Ms. Tan, the government offers many programs to facilitate the return of overseas workers, but these are often uncoordinated.  An ideal way that return migrants, employers, the government, and counseling and educational institutions can reach each other easily is through technology.  Thus, they developed the Integrated Return Migrant Assistant (IRMA), a mobile application that integrates all services (whether private or public) and will be available to Philippine return migrants. The IRMA addresses the gaps in information and services by providing integrated platforms through built-in unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) codes for cellphones and applications.

The Mabini Dialogue provided a venue for the different agencies dealing with migrant workers to come together and discuss how the IRMA can be utilized and improved to integrate data and coordinate services for easy access of return migrants.

The proposal for IRMA was the content of the paper which won the prestigious Geneva Challenge 2015 at the Graduate Institute in Geneva. The Geneva Challenge is an international competition for graduate students who may contribute ideas that are “both theoretically grounded and offer pragmatic solutions to a relevant international development problem”.

The Mabini Dialogue was attended by personnel from the Department of Foreign Affairs, representatives from DOLE, OWWA, CFO and the academe.