WITH a bit of imagination, a private school runs ahead in the race for innovation in pushing education’s new normal—the University of Cebu taps a network of internet stations in the Cebu towns to be study hubs for its students. So how do I teach thee, to rephrase Shakespeare’s sonnet—let me count the ways.
A report by SunStar Cebu’s Wenelyn Sabalo said UC Chancellor Candice Gotianoy, in a social media post, addressed internet depot owners on Aug. 16, 2020, that the school is looking for partners that have at least 15 to 20 computer units. The units must have flash drive ports, good network connection, safe environment and would open for students from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
“We thought, okay, there are internet cafes all over the province. So, why don’t we utilize that so it becomes easier for them and it becomes less gastos (costly) because it’s most likely near their place so they don’t have to spend for lodging, for board and for transportation,” Gotianuy said.
The university management understands that not all of its students have access to the internet and that some don’t have the necessary equipment for online classes.
Like what the Department of Education (DepEd) will be doing, UC provides access to downloadable references for students who may have intermittent internet connection. The e-books that students can download are priced at 50 percent lower than their printed editions.
What UC is doing though is making the already existing network of internet cafes in the towns as partners. The university shoulders the cost of running these cafes without passing on the burden to the students through their miscellaneous fees.
For safety, Gotianuy said the university would soon release a set of guidelines for partners. One of those is a mandatory disinfection of stations in intervals of two hours.
The university also partnered with the Philippine National Police to provide access passes to students who wish to work in the internet stations.
Aside from working with the internet cafes, the university is also partnering with the Cebu Electric Cooperative. The former will install stand-alone computers in the cooperative’s buildings in the cities of Carcar, Toledo and Bogo.
Gotianuy said the university will send “champions” to each area to assist students as a way for stakeholders to still feel a sense of community.
UC’s initiative is a bright light against dismal tales of schools having to close down in the midst of the pandemic for lack of enrollees. A little imagination certainly helps private schools pull through despite the contrast in support that public schools are getting in terms of funds.