By Alexander Villafania
PASIG CITY, METRO MANILA – Playing catch up with the global trend in using information and communications technology (ICT) in education, the Department of Education (DepEd) is in the process of evaluating a long-term course of building an ICT infrastructure for the entire education system.
During the launch of its first “cloud-based” collaborative project with Internet giant Google, DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro said that the DepEd, together with a group of technology partners, are evaluating a number of hardware and software technologies that can be fashioned for the basic education sector.
Luistro said that the evaluating group is led by famed Filipino technology investor Diosdado Banatao, chairperson of the Philippine Development Forum (PhilDev). Under the project, Banatao will provide DepEd some options on building an ICT infrastructure.
“It could start by building PC laboratories in each of our elementary and high schools. Later, we can look at actually putting a PC in a student’s hands,” Luistro said.
One such alternative is putting “thin clients” in classrooms. While these work like personal computers, these are different as they do not have their own internal components. Instead, they use the operating resources of another computer.
Thin clients cost significantly lesser than a complete computer but still provide enough processing power to run everyday tasks.
Luistro said that the ICT infrastructure build up would still be part of the DepEd’s budget and may not require additional budget. “Even the maintenance could already be part of the DepEd’s budget in the coming years.”
Currently, the DepEd’s budget for 2012 is P238.8 billion but it is proposing a P293.2 billion budget, or an additional P56 billion, for 2013.
This is largely to fast-track its K+12 program putting up new school buildings, as well as committing to its United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to put school-aged children by 2015.
The partnership with Google indicates DepEd’s plans to integrate cloud-based solutions in improving the education system in the country. Under the partnership, Google will build a common electronic email, chat, and calendar system for all 600,000 members of DepEd, from teachers up to the headquarters in Pasig City.
Google’s online services Gmail, GoogleTalk, and Google Calendar are among the services offered to the DepEd. Google’s local partner, Orange & Bronze, provided assistance in building the DepEd’s online collaborative network.
Luistro said that they aim to someday deliver educational materials to students even in remote places in the Philippines using cloud services.
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