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Duterte OKs P700M for internet access of 7,000 public schools


THE government is allocating P700 million for the provision of internet access to some 7,000 public schools nationwide, in preparation for the country’s shift to distance learning in the coming school year amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, President Rodrigo Duterte said.

In his 14th weekly report to Congress on the government’s pandemic response, Duterte said the Department of Education (DepEd) was “procuring internet connection for 7,000 schools to increase the total number of public schools with internet access.”

“The target completion of the project, which costs P700 million, will be in 10 months,” Duterte said in the report that was made public on Tuesday.

The DepEd has sought the shift to blended learning in the coming school year, even after Duterte raised doubts over the country’s capability to implement such learning methods.

Duterte made the remarks, even as he acknowledged that Education Secretary Leonor Briones has come up with a “very good” proposal to be implemented in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

“Secretary Briones is insisting that there should be an alternative there. And she has a very good program for that. Parang (It’s like) teleconferencing. The technology is good. I do not know if we are ready for that,” Duterte said in his previous speech.

Blended learning is an approach that would allow learners to study through electronic and online media, as well as traditional face-to-face classes.

Malacañang expressed confidence that DepEd was ready for the scheduled opening of classes on August 24, despite the threat posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Briones assured Duterte and the public that the opening of school did not mean face-to-face classes would resume.

She said students can access learning materials through printouts or online.

For learners who have no access to the Internet, they can be reached through television or radio, Briones added.

In the same report to Congress, Duterte said the DepEd, through a memorandum, has allowed teachers to bring home DepEd-bought devices for use in distance learning.

This, after the department conducted a survey to “harvest issues and concerns on the opening of classes, including matters related to learning modalities and availability of resources that can be used in alternative learning delivery,” according to Duterte.

The Deped also determined that “the availability of devices is a limiting factor to technology-based approaches to learning,” he added.

Meanwhile, Duterte said the Department of Information and Communications (DICT) has partnered up with “leading teacher education institutions” to develop and conduct a nationwide Digital Teachers Training Program.

This, he said, was in line with efforts “to build digital capabilities for both teachers and students as a response to the new normal.”

“Further, the DICT is piloting the Digital Learners Project in Pinaglabanan Elementary School in San Juan in August 2020, which will provide gadgets, digital literacy training, and internet connectivity to the teachers and students,” he added.


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