PUERTO PRINCESA CITY — The Department of Education (DepEd) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) are set to launch this month the expansion of information and communications technology (ICT) and solar power program in Bagong Bayan Elementary School (BBES) in El Nido.
The computerization and alternative source of energy projects seek to advance quality education as one of the 17 Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) that were committed by 189 global leaders. One of the targets is to substantially increase technical and vocational skills of the youth on ICT by 2030.
DepEd undersecretary Alain del Bustamante Pascua said Wednesday, April 10, that the technology will improve the quality of education and offer vast possibilities for learning.
“If used correctly, ICT will improve our teaching methods. It will create new learning opportunities and develop critical thinking; making our students more innovative in solving not only community problems but also in facing global challenges,” he said.
The BBES is one of the 4,000 poorly energized public schools in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas or GIDAs in Luzon and Mindanao that will receive ICT packages.
With the projects, DepEd estimates that 600,000 children will have access to laptops powered by solar energy this year.
Pascua said one of the key strategies in achieving equitable access to quality services is through the use of technologies that help expand the reach of basic education.
UNDP country director Titon Mitra, on the other hand, said also in a statement that when ICT literacy can help students dream big and beyond the classrooms.
“We are also encouraging them to believe that they can shape a better life for their family,” said Mitra.
“As a DepEd development partner, UNDP seeks people-centered interventions that translate into better services and lifelong learning opportunities. But time is of the essence. We have to move quickly to reach the margins, especially those children in vulnerable situations, to have a meaningful impact,” he added.
UNDP program manager Caroline Belisario said she sees a great opportunity to empower children and communities with the projects.
“Parents, teachers, LGUs, and CSO partners are all working hard to serve our children. So we urge everyone to ensure the proper delivery and usage of the ICT equipment, because quality education will help improve lives,” she said.
DepEd ICT Services director Abram Abanil said there is a need for Philippine public schools like BBES to maximize technology to prepare El Nido students for 21st-century competencies and careers.
“We hope this program will give equal opportunity for all students across the country. Technology will allow learners to access relevant knowledge. Our goal, though, is to improve IT skills and application, which are needed in various industries. With these global skills, our kids will become self-reliant and productive citizens,” said Abanil.
To fast-track education service delivery, DepEd entered into an agreement with the UNDP Philippine Country Office on March 29, 2016 to help procure ICT packages for public schools, including those in the GIDAs.
Aside from deploying community-based monitoring during delivery and inspection of the ICT packages, UNDP is also supporting DepEd’s efforts to implement public financial management reforms and to conduct diagnostic studies for the capacity development of both government and civil society partners. — Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)