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Philippine PDRF launches online COVID-19 educational courses

Filipino citizens may now learn more on COVID-19 related topics such as COVID-19 management systems, vaccination implementation programmes, and contact tracing through the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation’s (PDRF) e-learning platform iADAPT’s “COVID-19 ICT Courses”, developed by the Data Resiliency for Ease of Access and Management (DREAM) Team.

The online courses aim to strengthen the capacities of local government units (LGUs), healthcare and medical staff, and local communities across the country in dealing with public health emergencies. The programme is under the country’s objective of upskilling different agencies with COVID-19 ICT systems in preparation for the implementation of the vaccination programme across the country.

The project is supported by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) as they are mandated to deploy and monitor the use of ICT solutions that are part of the official COVID-19 ICT ecosystem. They are also leading other capacity-building activities and pieces of training for the Vaccine Information Management System (VIMS) and other related ICT systems used by LGUs. The agency said that they are working closely with the Department of Health (DOH) and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to help mitigate the effects of the pandemic by creating solutions to bridge the digital divide.

The DOH and the IATF are also in partnership with the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Aid Programme as well as the PDRF’s Project K3, in adding content to these online courses to further guide the public in adopting relevant safety protocols.

Similarly, in trying to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, in a partnership with the Office of Civil Défense (OCD) and with the support of New Zealand Aid and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, the PDRF launched a public service continuity mentorship programme that adopts a blended learning approach, combining self-paced online modules uploaded to the agency’s iADAPT platform with three webinar write-shops where qualified public service continuity planning (PSCP) facilitators guide participants in drafting their continuity plans.

Beyond crafting a robust continuity plan, the mentorship programme will also create improvement in both public and private communities and may foster new health resilience champions who will both support the response to the current pandemic and prepare communities for future disruptions.

According to a report from the World Bank and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the rapid adoption of digital technologies can help the Philippines overcome the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, recover from the crisis, and achieve its vision of becoming a middle-class society free of poverty.

The report says that the use of digital technologies such as digital payments, e-commerce, telemedicine, and online education, is rising in the Philippines and has helped individuals, businesses, and the government cope with social distancing measures, ensure business continuity, and deliver public services during the pandemic. COVID-19 has caused substantial disruptions in the domestic economy as community restrictions have limited the movement of people and reduced business operations nationwide. As we are now living with the new normal, the use of digital technology and digital transformation has become important for Filipinos in coping with the present crisis, moving towards economic recovery, and getting back on track towards the country’s long-term aspirations.

However, the use of digital technologies in the Philippines is still below its potential, with the country’s digital adoption generally trailing behind many regional neighbours. The digital divide between those with and without the internet leads to unequal access to social services and life-changing economic opportunities, as internet connectivity is the foundation of the digital economy.

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