SEN. Miriam Defensor-Santiago has filed a bill seeking to equip—for free—poor but deserving students with knowledge and skills in the competitive information and communications technology (ICT) field.
Santiago, author of the proposed Magna Carta of Internet Freedom, called on the public to support Senate Bill (SB) 2839 or the Free ICT College Education Act. If approved, it will mandate state colleges and universities to develop two-year ICT courses.
These courses shall then be offered for free to all graduates of public high schools, subject to limitations of funding and facilities. The proposed law also seeks to penalize school authorities who refuse to admit qualified beneficiaries.
“Technology has provided us modern ways to effectively communicate and make information more accessible today. ICT has been a boon to the Philippine economy. As this sector continues to grow, demand for competent workers is also increasing,” the senator said.
Under te Free ICT College Education Act, beneficiaries would have the right to choose the state college or university of his choice, within the city, province or region, as the case may be, for purposes of enjoying free college education.
Santiago explained that by requiring schools all over the country to offer free ICT education, the proposed law will ensure that there is a pool of talent to support the labor requirements of the ICT sector as it expands to the countryside from highly urbanized centers.
Aside from the Free ICT College Education Act, Santiago in 2013 filed SB 1696 or the Education for the 21st Century Act that aims to increase computer literacy programs for students by providing training for teachers on the latest computer software.
If enacted, the bill will authorize the Secretary of Education to award grants to public and private schools for teacher training in technology. Local government units will also be encouraged to match such funds for schools in their areas.
“Studies show that students whose teachers received training in computers performed better than others. Schools that provide teachers with professional development in computers also enjoyed higher staff morale and lower absenteeism,” the senator said.