By Alexandria Dennise San Juan
Following reports of stolen government-issued laptops for public schools in the country, the Department of Education (DepEd) will soon be issuing a new batch of computer laboratory packages with modern security features through the DepEd Computerization Program (DCP).
Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones during a press briefing at Camp Karingal in Quezon City Tuesday. (ALVIN KASIBAN / MANILA BULLETIN)
Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that for this year, the DepEd will be spending P8.5 billion for the computerization program.
“This year, through the DCP, we will be providing children with laptops so they can do their homework at school. This is a huge program,” Briones said in a press conference at the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) Headquarters at Camp Karingal on Tuesday.
The DCP was launched by the DepEd to enhance the teacher-learning process in public schools through appropriate information and communications technologies.
This 2018, the DepEd, through the DCP, will deploy computer packages to 22,154 schools nationwide who will receive multimedia packages for Kinder to Grade 3 students.
A total of 11,708 students from elementary to senior high level will also be given thin-client packages with a total of 293,796 terminals.
Meanwhile, at least 1,361 junior high schools will receive 68,050 Tablet PC packages while 918 standalone PCs will be delivered to 18 senior high schools all throughout the country.
The devices that will be included in the DCP packages will depend on the identified need of the recipient school based on the curriculum being offered.
Under the DCP, schools will receive information technology (IT) equipment such as host personal computers, terminals, laptops, projectors, tablets, uninterruptible power supplies, automatic voltage regulators, network accessories, licensed software, and other IT supplies.
A basic training on troubleshooting of the devices will also be provided by the Department to beneficiary schools upon delivery and installation of the package.
Prior to the distribution of the package, DepEd conducts school readiness assessment to ensure that the recipient school would be able to maintain the equipment to be issued to them.
To be classified as “ready,” the school must have a dedicated and secure multimedia classroom with proper electrical wiring and outlets with installation duly certified by the municipal or city electrician, a sufficient number of computer tables and chairs, at least two electric stand fans, and sufficient lighting, among others.
Theft of devices
However, since the start of the DCP, Briones said they received reports from schools about multiple incidents of theft involving computer packages deployed in the said schools.
Such incidents, according to the DepEd chief, range from break-ins to school premises and theft of devices, to removal of parts from computer packages.
During the press conference yesterday, Briones said there are at least 17 cases of stolen computer packages since 2016 and the recent incident was just last March 2018.
In a bid to deter theft and pilferage of the DCP computer packages and their parts, the DepEd has launched the Blue DepEd Computers, a new set of computing devices unique to school-based computer units.
According to Briones, the upcoming DCP packages will have blue exteriors with DepEd and DCP branding alongside the original device brand.
New security features
DepEd Undersecretary Alain Pascua added that the new equipments will now have a tracking system device to trace the whereabouts of the units that should be only kept in school.
The intention of such design, according to the DepEd official, is to indicate that the computer unit is government property, and that mere possession of the unit outside schools, as well as the removal of parts is “punishable by law.”
Aside from these features, various security measures are also being imposed on and implemented by the schools including security personnel, heavy-duty locks, security cameras, and strategically-placed security and emergency lights.
Meanwhile, Briones called on those who have purchased stolen DepEd-issued laptops to surrender it already to the authorities to avoid facing charges for theft of government property.