September 25, 2020

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Philippines Foreign Service Institute shifts to digital learning

The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has announced it is shifting from traditional classroom training to 100% online learning to ensure that its training programs reach more audience amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The current global health emergency requiring physical distancing has prompted the FSI to advance the timetable for implementing the institute’s earlier plans to shift its courses from the traditional face-to-face modality to online, a press release explained.

The FSI serves as the centre for development and professionalisation of DFA’s foreign service units as well as other government agencies that have offices and employees assigned abroad.

On 3 August, the DFA announced the completion of the first run of two online courses: the Basic Foreign Service Staff Employees’ Course (BFSSEC) and the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS).

BFSSEC

It is one of the institute’s core training programs and was designed to equip participants with the basic knowledge and skills required of their positions and enabled them to carry out their functions more effectively.

The course focused on enriching the knowledge of participants in clerical, administrative, and technical work while enhancing basic communication skills.

PDOS

The course was conducted for DFA personnel who were going on assignments abroad for the first time.

This four-module seminar covered Diplomacy and Philippine Foreign Policy, Philippine Foreign Service Work Operations, Crisis Management and Assistance to Nationals (CMAN), and Adapting to Foreign Assignments and Building Resilience.

The DFA said that BFSSEC has been completed by 45 DFA personnel while a total of 37 personnel participated in the PDOS Course, 20 from DFA and 17 from other government agencies: i.e., Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Department of National Defense (DND), and Philippine National Police (PNP).

Online deliveries of the courses are conducted via Google Meet and Zoom platforms while trivia games and quizzes were done through applications such as Kahoot and Mentimeter.

Despite all the technical challenges in the new modality, one of the resource persons highlighted in her feedback of the Course that, during a pandemic, online classes are better than traditional face-to-face classes, the release stated.

Many local government units around the country are boosting digital methods to cope with the pandemic.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is set to improve the internet connectivity in Batanes, in response to the online education program of the Department of Education.

Acting Governor Ignacio Villa admitted that internet connection remains to be a challenge in most areas in the province thereby limiting web-based services, where the connection is reliable.

He also said setting up of internet services in the different municipalities will also back up the move of public and private agencies to implement online transactions.

On the other hand, Villa said the tourism industry, which is the main livelihood source of the majority of the Ivatans, is greatly affected by the Corona Virus Disease 2019 pandemic.

The government has given some assistance in the form of goods and cash grants to the affected families. This is aside from the assistance given by other government agencies.