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DICT launches Tech4ED Centre in Batanes, Philippines

The Department of Information and Communications Technology – Luzon Cluster 1 (DICT-LC1) recently launched a Technology for Education, Employment, Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (Tech4ED) Centre at the Rural Health Unit in Barangay San Rafael in Itbayat, Batanes. This is the first Tech4ED or e-learning centre established in the farthest local government unit (LGU) in the northern Philippines.

A Tech4ED Centre is a community ICT hub that provides access to learning, employment, and entrepreneurial opportunities to rural communities. This is done through a special database system called the Tech4ED platform that features segments like eAgri, which provides information and services on agriculture technologies for farmers and fisherfolks. On another segment, eEduSkills, users can avail of e-learning through digital modules, and on the eMarketPlace, local entrepreneurs are provided with greater market reach.

“The establishment of the Tech4ED Centre in Itbayat—the northernmost municipality of our country—is indeed a welcome development. It underscores the government’s determined effort to provide easy accessibility to every municipality and barangay in our country. This project will no doubt benefit everybody,” Batanes Congressman Ciriaco Gato, Jr. said. Tech4Ed is one of the components of the DICT’s flagship Digital Philippines Programme.

This move is expected to bridge the digital gap by addressing the scarcity of ICT resources in the municipality that has hampered digital growth among locals. “We already have connectivity in Itbayat but what is still lacking are ICT skills and equipment so locals can truly maximise digital opportunities. It’s very strategic to put up an e-learning centre so we can train people on ICT,” DICT Batanes Provincial Officer Mina Flor Villafuerte said.

“ICT connects us to each other, just as much as it connects us to opportunities no matter how far these opportunities may be from our physical location. This is the essence of Tech4ED. It provides access to ICT and digital learning—access that then transform into empowerment—empowerment that reaches every corner of the country,” DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II said.

The department will be lining up digital training and programmes to digitally-empower the municipality. This is one of the department’s moves to assist Itbayat to recover and rise from the impact of earthquakes that struck the Batanes islands in July 2019. Itbayat’s municipal hall including existing ICT equipment was destroyed during the earthquake.

As OpenGov Asia reported earlier, DICT installed free Wi-Fi and the Government Emergency Communications System on the island of Burdeos in Quezon Province, a disaster response initiative in areas ravaged by Typhoons Rolly and Ulysses.

Through the request of Governor Danny Suarez, DICT installed a very small aperture terminal (VSAT) satellite in Burdeos Municipal Hall to provide Internet connectivity, which has helped citizens in Burdeos contact their families and loved ones online for free. The provisioned Internet connectivity also allowed Governor Suarez to talk to Burdeos Mayor Freddie Aman to discuss the situation on the island. The equipment used was transported to Burdeos with the help of the Philippine Air Force.

In the last two weeks, DICT was able to restore and provide additional free Wi-Fi in typhoon-hit and flooded areas across the country, including Catanduanes, Albay, Cagayan, and Quezon, among others.

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