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Closing the Digital Gap: Supporting Inclusivity in the Philippines

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The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has made significant strides in bridging the digital divide by providing internet connectivity to the Dumagat community in Sitio Manalo, Barangay San Lorenzo, Norzagaray, Bulacan. Through the government’s Free Wi-Fi for All programme, residents can now access the internet without having to travel long distances, bringing numerous benefits to their daily lives.

Image credits: Philippine Information Agency

DICT Provincial Director Mario Antonio Aya-ay highlighted the transformative impact of digital inclusion for indigenous peoples, noting that the initiative empowers them to participate in the digital world, which offers new opportunities for education, healthcare, and economic growth.

“This initiative not only brings the world closer to these communities but also opens up a realm of opportunities for them,” he stressed.

The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Bulacan Chief also praised the initiative, pointing out that the internet facilities provided by DICT will significantly aid students and teachers at Dike-Adwas Elementary School with their distance learning and research activities.

“In this era of digitalisation, where everything is on social media, this project bridges the digital divide for indigenous peoples living in the upland. They are not left behind,” she remarked.

The Chieftain of Sitio Manalo expressed gratitude for the government’s efforts, acknowledging the newfound opportunities that connectivity has brought to their community. A teacher from Dike-Adwas Elementary School noted that the free Wi-Fi has made it easier to communicate with the Schools Division and District Offices of the Department of Education, allowing for timely submission of reports and interactive learning for students.

OpenGov Asia reported on DICT’s broader efforts in Eastern Visayas, where a series of initiatives aimed at revolutionising education and technological infrastructure have been launched. These include the Universal Internet Subscription for Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (UISGIDA) programme, which has established 183 free Wi-Fi sites and 129 Technology for Education, Employment, Entrepreneurs, and Economic Development (Tech4ED) centres.

These initiatives are designed to provide access to digital resources and skills training, empowering communities to engage in the digital economy. The launch of new DICT offices and emergency telecommunication satellite facilities further underscores the department’s commitment to inclusive development and disaster resilience.

Reflecting on these initiatives, DICT officials acknowledged the transformative impact of connectivity in fostering community empowerment and driving positive change. The department’s efforts signal a promising future for digital advancement in the region, ensuring that even the most remote communities can benefit from technological progress.

Nationwide, the DICT is driving progress by empowering local communities and ensuring digital inclusivity across the Philippines. Initiatives like the DIRECT Programme foster digital literacy and economic growth in rural areas, epitomising the department’s commitment to equitable access to digital opportunities.

During the Convergence of Luzon ICT Champions Conference and Exhibition 2024 (CLICkConEx) held at the Baguio City Convention Center, DICT Undersecretary for ICT Industry Development Jocelle Batapa-Sigue highlighted the crucial role of ICT councils in fostering local ecosystems primed for digital advancement. These councils tackle pressing issues such as cybersecurity, digital literacy, and the digital divide.

In its unwavering dedication to harnessing technology for nationwide progress, the DICT continues to empower local government units (LGUs) and ICT councils, amplifying ICT capabilities at the grassroots level.

Under the Digital Innovation for Regional Ecosystem and Countryside Transformation (DIRECT) Programme, the DICT is making a direct impact on stakeholders in rural areas. This includes various initiatives aimed at promoting digital literacy and economic growth.

The Philippines is embarking on a journey towards digital inclusivity, with the DICT leading the charge through its National Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Month 2024 celebration. All these efforts are paving the way for a more inclusive and connected future, where every Filipino can benefit from the advantages of digital technology.


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