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The Philippines’ DepEd Partners to Empower Education Sector

Image credit: www.globe.com.ph

A local telco said it has signed a landmark partnership with the Philippines’ Department of Education (DepEd) – Division of Cebu Province for the construction of 26 new cell sites in 26 DepEd locations to support the government’s online learning initiatives.

The telco is investing over USD 7 million for the building of the new cell sites in 26 Cebu schools. This will provide Internet connectivity to around 36,000 students and 1,550 teachers and neighbouring communities.

Under the memorandum of agreement (MOA), DepEd Cebu will offer its premises free of rent for the cell sites. The telco, for its part, will furnish DepEd schools in the province with free broadband and Wi-Fi services.

The education department said that we are now in the digital age where Internet connection is already a need, not a want. Through this partnership, they hope that more students will be able to fulfil their educational requirements amid the challenges brought about by the pandemic and they look forward to working closely with the telco in building the cell sites that will help their staff, students, and even their families gain improved access to the internet.

As per the telco, the Philippines is falling behind in terms of remote learning. Many students are still struggling to keep up with their classes due to a lack of connectivity tools to help them meet school requirements. The establishment of more cell sites will mean better access to quality education for students and a digitally enabled future for families. This project with DepEd Cebu Province is a first of its kind, a proof that progress amplifies when two or more organisations work together in reaching their goals, they added.

Last year, the telco and DepEd worked together in providing teachers and students with free access to DepEd Commons, which contains online review materials and Open Educational Resources (OER) authored by public school teachers. The telco said it also assisted DepEd in training educators for distance learning through a modified series of webinars under its Global Filipino Teachers (GFT) programme.

In the perspective of empowering the country’s education sector and as reported by OpenGov Asia, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) announced that they are providing tablets, laptops and pocket Wi-Fi to the City of San Juan to be distributed to public school students in the city.

This initiative is part of the agency’s efforts to assist the education sector, especially students and teachers, as the country adopts blended learning for the continuance of education amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, said the DICT. The agency targets to replicate the success of this initiative in other local government units as well, it added.

A total of 12,500 tablets, 1,000 laptops and 1,000 pocket Wi-Fi were turned over to the city of San Juan.

According to the City Mayor, grades three to six students of Pinaglabanan Elementary School will receive laptops with pocket Wi-Fi as they have been selected as the pilot school for distance learning, while other Kinder to Grade 12 students from all the other San Juan public schools will receive tablets. All devices are pre-loaded with DICT and Department of Education (DepEd)-developed teaching and learning digital content. Quick links to the DepEd teaching and learning portals (DepEd Commons, LRMDS) are also installed on all devices.

The DICT also targets to increase students’ knowledge of cybersecurity. The DICT has partnered with the City of San Juan in producing CyberSafe Learning materials. The said materials provide tips on how users could maximise the use of ICT while minimising risks and threats online.

The said initiative is part of the Digital Teachers and Digital Learners Project under DICT’s Digital Education Programme, which aims to facilitate digital transformation in the education sector and help address challenges in the delivery of basic education in the K-6 during and beyond the pandemic.

Still part of its initiative to support the education sector in the new normal, the DICT has partnered with the DepEd with the establishment of the Public Education Network aimed at providing digital connectivity to all public schools and DepEd offices nationwide.

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