Only 26 percent of public schools in the country have Internet access, which is detrimental to students’ competitiveness, according to the Department of Education (DepEd).
DepEd undersecretary Alain Pascua made this revelation during the Committee on Education hearing on the status of Internet connectivity in public schools all over the country.
According to Pascua, the data is worrisome since DepEd considers connectivity as one of the important tools in learning.
“Nakakabahala sa akin na sa report ng Department of Education (DepEd) na 26 percent ng ating eskuwelahan ay may Internet connectivity,” said Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino, chairman of the Committee on Education.
“And to think, may bilyun-bilyong piso silang budget para i-connect ang ating mga eskuwelahan sa Internet, only about one-fourth lang ang may kakayahang mag-connect dahil sa kakulangan sa infrastructure at Internet signal,” Aquino added.
With this, the solon urged the DepEd, Department of Information and Communications (DICT), and telecommunication companies to map out a plan that will address the problem.
This way, public schools and state colleges and universities will be included in the roll-out of the government’s free Wi-Fi project all over the country in the next two years.
“Kung ang mga eskuwelahan natin hindi maka-connect sa Internet, kaagad-agad, hindi na sila competitive gaya ng ibang eskuwelahan dito at sa buong mundo,” said Aquino.
By allowing Internet connectivity in schools, the lawmaker stressed that it will pave the way for the public educational system to be taken to the future.
“Gusto naming makita ang roadmap kung paano ang 26 percent, magiging 100 at kung ilang taon bago ma-fulfill ang ating goal,” the senator explained.
Aquino pointed out that public schools need reliable Internet connection to support and enhance the learning capabilities of students by giving them access to learning materials and online information.
As chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology, Aquino also discussed several bills seeking to establish free Wi-Fi to public places in different parts of the country.
The DICT said it is planning to put up free Wi-Fi in 12,841 public areas in different parts of the country by November 2017.
However, the DICT and telecommunication companies difficulty in acquiring permits from local government units (LGUs) are hampering their infrastructure development efforts.
“We want to make sure na ang mga balakid na ito, matanggal na para magkaroon tayo ng free Wi-Fi,” said Aquino.