Though the Bureau of Customs has repeatedly donated seized gadgets to the Department of Education (DepEd) to support distance learning, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said the education department should ensure a more efficient implementation of its own computerization program.
The DepEd Computerization Program (DCP) aims to respond to the computer backlog of public schools and provide these schools with appropriate technologies to enhance the teaching-learning process and “meet the challenges of the 21st century.”
The DCP also aims to provide computer laboratory packages to secondary schools, e-classroom to elementary schools, and laptops for mobile teachers.
Under the 2021 General Appropriations Act, the DCP has an allocation of P5.9 billion. The program, however, is hounded by implementation woes, which should be immediately addressed, said Gatchalian.
In its 2019 audit, the Commission on Audit (COA) said that from 2015 to 2019, the DCP only met 59.43 percent of its target. This means that only 8,523 out of 14,342 targeted schools nationwide received ICT packages.
The COA also flagged that more than P3.2 billion in payments to suppliers in 2019 were not supported by documentary requirements.
An inspection by the audit body revealed that some schools were not ready to receive the packages because they lack multi-media or computer rooms, proper electrical groundings, wirings and circuit breaker, and window grills.
ICT coordinators also reported that some suppliers did not provide after-sales services. Some of them could no longer be reached through contact details provided. This prevented schools from availing warranty privileges and let suppliers escape liability.
“Nakita natin ngayong panahon ng pandemya na hindi na natin maaaring paghintayin pa ang modernisasyon para sa mga mag-aaral at mga guro. Mahalagang matiyak natin ang pagpapatupad ng nasabing programa upang mapakinabangan na nila ‘to,” said Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.
Gatchalian is also eyeing to file a bill that aims to provide laptops and Internet allowances to the country’s K to 12 learners.