November 30, 2020

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The Philippines DICT covers 90 more schools with free Wi-Fi

Ninety schools in the Zamboanga Peninsula are now Internet-connected through the Department of Information and Communications Technology’s (DICT) Free Wi-Fi in Public Areas and State University and Colleges initiative.

The project is part of the Department’s efforts to aid the education sector transition to ‘new normal of learning’. A press statement explained that the government recognises the importance of the Internet in the continuance of education in the new normal and is aware that, despite this, a lot of teachers and students still do not have Internet connectivity in their homes. With the provision of free Wi-Fi Internet within these communities, the department hopes to be able to help address some of the challenges faced by learners and teachers as they adjust to blended learning, at least with the availability and affordability of Internet connectivity.

Various school heads expressed their appreciation to DICT for free Internet connectivity and access. According to them, free Internet access has helped teaching and non-teaching staff, as well as students, better adapt to the new normal in the education sector. Teachers have easy access to different educational platforms.

Online platforms are now feasible, and students are very happy to learn in a modern way with the use of the Internet provided, Adrian G. Refugio, Principal of Zamboanga del Norte National High School, stated.

“It (Free Wi-Fi) provided us with better Internet connectivity that we need for our schoolwork and to be more productive despite restrictions of the new normal. It allows us to perform our duty on the go without thinking that we will run out of data,” Maria Lisa B. Elopre-Valdehueza, Principal of Dipolog City National High School added. “It maximises information dissemination, lessens the burden of teachers because communication with our students is made easy through Facebook messenger and other Google platforms.”

Last month, OpenGov Asia reported that DICT and the local government unit (LGU) of Zambales would provide internet connectivity in the province through the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MoA).

Under the MoA, the province received the continuous deployment of free public Wi-Fi through DICT’s Free Wi-Fi for All Program and established the Zambales Provincial Broadband Network.

The ceremonial signing took place during the launching of 64 free Wi-Fi live sites in 16 locations in Zambales. The fee Wi-Fi sites were the result of the cooperation between DICT and the Province of Zambales, formalised through a previous MoA signed in January. These sites have been accessible to the public since August this year.

The heightened clamour for internet connectivity after the onset of the community quarantine in the Philippines took the telecommunications sector by surprise. Government offices, hospitals, state universities, and local colleges, among others, have benefitted from existing free Wi-Fi sites in the province. These include the President Ramon Magsaysay State University and the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy. The MOA was expected to provide more public institutions with free Internet.

Meanwhile, the Provincial Broadband Network will be linked to the national broadband backbone. Phase 1 of the government-owned network will be completed by the end of 2020. The collaboration aims to be a catalyst in furthering inclusive and comprehensive broadband penetration in the province by supporting the government’s initiative to establish a provincial broadband network. And by ensuring that the provincial LGU is provided with adequate bandwidth at reasonable, competitive rates as allowed by law, if not free, the DICT Secretary, Gregorio B.Honasan, explained.