Earlier today, June 8, Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones said face-to-face classes will be postponed until a COVID-19 vaccine is available. This effectively solidifies the push for remote learning or blended learning as DepEd calls it, where students will be encouraged to learn through radio, television and the internet.
This is despite the fact that even the President doubts the country’s readiness to adopt online classes given Filipinos’ limited access to gadgets and internet connection in underserved communities.
Unlike in remote communities, where data connection is also a problem, here in the National Capital Region at least, with public WiFi networks available in cities such as Metro Manila, learners will only have to worry about gadgets. But still, in this economy, not every household can afford to reallocate what little they have for a remote learning setup.
This is why Manila City Mayor Isko Domagoso is allocating P994 million to provide thousands of stay-at-home students and teachers with tablets and laptops, as well as a data allowance of 10 gigabytes per month.
The funding for this project, Domagoso said, will come from the budget previously allocated for school activities and classroom construction. Through this, Manila City LGU will buy 110,000 tablets with SIM card capabilities to be distributed to anticipated 275,000 public school students for school year 2020-2021.
“May datos po ang DepEd na may three students per household, kaya one household, one tablet. Four hours [ang usage ng tablet] per student, twice a week. 10 gig a month per student. They think that would be enough,” Domagoso said in a radio interview.
Likewise, some 10,000 teachers in the city will be provided with laptops and 10 GB data allocation through pocket WiFi devices that they can use to facilitate online remote teaching.
To ensure the data allotment will only be used for learning purposes, Domagoso said certain websites will be blocked. On social media, to complement blended learning, some users are uploading free modules that can be used for learning at home, with some even volunteering to print these materials so those without internet access or gadgets can still catch up with their peers.
Header photo courtesy of Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso Facebook Page
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Writer: CHRISTIAN SAN JOSE