The Department of Education (DepEd) is in need of P37 billion ($744 million) for the two most crucial resources that teachers will need in distance learning – laptop computers and internet access.
According to Education Undersecretary Alain Pascua P33 billion of the amount would be spent on laptops, while the remaining P4 billion would be allotted on a year’s worth of data connectivity.
“We know where we're going... But, at the end of the day, it is always the quantity of cash required for these initiatives that are clearly missing at this time,” Pascua told lawmakers during a House Committee on Appropriations hearing on Tuesday (September 14).
Pascua noted that the department’s funds are still lacking.
“It’s always the amount of funds needed for these programs [that] are obviously lacking at this time,” he said.
All in all, 211,000 units were already distributed under the 2019 budget; over 36,000 laptops from last year are presently being distributed; and more than 65,000 units from this year are being purchased. Pascua added that 97 percent of the country's teachers would be covered.
The DepEd official went on to say that 40,000 more computers were purchased through the Bayanihan 2, awaiting delivery.
But he stressed that providing gadgets is only one part of the initiative.
Pascua said that the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), which is in charge of establishing data infrastructure and internet connection across the country, would address the other issue of connectivity. He clarified, however, that the department is also seeking to help address the issue.
Since remote learning began in October 2020, several groups from the education sector have been calling for government subsidies for teaching and learning resources such as gadgets and internet access.
As the Philippines enters its second year of online learning, students and teachers are still plagued by the same issues such as the digital divide and loss of learning.
Ana Catalina Paje is a development journalist passionate about grassroots communication geared towards genuine social change. She also writes about showbiz, lifestyle, and all things Pinoy pride. The views expressed are her own.
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