DICT seeks COA’s assistance on undistributed gadgets

·Contributor
·2 min read
A boy wears a face shield while watching a simulation of an online learning class from a smartphone in his home, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Manila, Philippines, August 17, 2020. The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said that they are seeking the advice of the Commission on Audit (COA) on how to distribute the gadgets it procured. (Photo: REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez)
A boy wears a face shield while watching a simulation of an online learning class from a smartphone in his home, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Manila, Philippines, August 17, 2020. The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said that they are seeking the advice of the Commission on Audit (COA) on how to distribute the gadgets it procured. (Photo: REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez)

Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Ivan John Uy said in an interview with Newsbytes.PH on Saturday (August 27) that he is still unsure as to how the undistributed laptops and tablets will be distributed, adding that his department is seeking the Commission on Audit (COA) for advice.

In its 2021 audit report, COA flagged the DICT’s non-distribution of 866 laptops and 12,482 tablets it procured for its Cybersafe Learning Education program, which have been stuck in the DICT’s stockroom for several months now.

“Management failed to identify beneficiaries for the CLE Project prior to the acquisition of laptops and tablets, resulting in the low rate of distribution,” COA said.

“To my understanding, the laptops were purchased first without intended recipients. Another [issue] is that the funds used to purchase the laptops and tablets seem to have come from another source,” the DICT secretary said.

Uy, who was the Keynote Speaker on the 10th Visayas ICT Organization, said that distributing the gadgets will be challenging for the DICT, that’s why he seeking the opinion of COA.

“We want to be careful on how to resolve this issue that’s why we are seeking the advice of COA on what could be the best resolution,” Uy said.

But for teachers’ group Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), the best resolution is to fast-track the distribution of the said gadgets in order for teachers and students to be able to make use of it for online learning.

“It is frustrating that while gadgets for education are extremely lacking, there are gadgets that only gather dust in DICT storage, and there are outdated gadgets that are bought on exorbitant prices,” Vladimer Quetua, ACT’s chairperson, said in a statement on August 14.

The ACT also mentioned in their statement the internal survey it conducted among its members from different parts of the country which said that only 10% of public school teachers are able to use the government-issued laptops, 6% of which are teachers who are from the regions, while 4% are from Metro Manila.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates.

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