'eRizal' tablet computers for Laguna students

There is a long list of things named after Jose Rizal—from persons who share his name, to streets all over the Philippines, and even to crawling creatures he once discovered.

In time for the celebration of his 150th birth anniversary on Sunday, however, one thing will be added to that list: tablet computers.

In what could be deemed as a pioneering effort in the field of public education, the provincial government of Laguna is launching what they call the eRizal tablet, a 7-inch touchscreen device that could replace books in the classroom.

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Laguna provincial board member Neil Nocon said they looked no further than their own backyard in choosing a name for the device, as Calamba is considered the national hero's hometown.

"we called it the eRizal tablet because Rizal is the icon of education, the icon of learning. We would like our students to emulate the character, the values and the love for country of Rizal," Nocon said.

Multi-faceted device

In terms of the many things it can do, the device could very well be likened to Rizal, too, who dabbled in a lot of things during his lifetime, and has been considered a true Renaissance Man by many historians.

"It's not just text, ang maganda dito, it fits the students and the teachers of today, [dahil meron] na siyang pictures, meron siyang video, meron siyang games that the teacher can find very useful and very interesting," said Dr. Jose Lloyd Espiritu, an associate professor at the De La Salle University College of Computer Studies, in an interview with GMA News TV's "State of the Nation."

Aside from being pre-loaded with teachings about Jose Rizal, the tablet, co-developed by the University of Philippines - Los Baños and Vibal Publishing, can also be loaded with literary works penned by Rizal himself.

"This technology would be used as a strong grip of the province in the struggle against inequity of opportunities, a tool which everyone is given access," said Laguna governor Jeorge E.R. Ejercito, the brains of the project.

Learning aid

In the initial stages of deployment, some 1,000 units of the eRizal tablet will be distributed for use in 14 schools around the province.

This early, students are finding the device convenient and easy to use, as evidenced by interviews with students of Pedro Guevarra Memorial National High School in the TV report.

"Madali po syang dalhin tapos po marami pong matututunan tapos pwede na rin pong dalhin bilang libro, hindi na po magdadala ng libro," said one student.

Another commented: "Lahat po ng data na kailangan po na nasa libro rin po, mas madali pong mahanap."

"Sa paggamit po niya mas napapadali po yung pag-aaral ko," added one student.

Nocon, however, clarified that the tablets wouldn't completely edge out the role of books in the classroom. "It will act only as a supplementary material," he stressed.

Tablets are a potential alternative to heavy bags laden with several books students are so used to carry to and around school, but additional allocations for education in the province's budget would have to be set aside in order to manufacture the tablets for mass use.

According to the CIA World Factbook, the Philippine government has set aside only 2.8 percent of its GDP for education in 2008, lower than neighboring countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Timor-Leste. — TJD, GMA News

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