PLM calls on gov't to provide free internet access to poor students, faculty

By Minka Klaudia Tiangco

The president of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) called on the government to begin setting up "massive" information technology to provide free access to internet and free computers to students and faculty, especially the poor.

The statement came as school and government officials moved to suspend face-to-face learning and are now mulling continuing remote work and schooling instead amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

PLM President Emmanuel Leyco said that although there are some benefits to having classes online, many students and faculty cannot afford gadgets and access to stable internet connection.

"Theoretically, more students could benefit from online platforms. But digital divide will determine who goes to virtual campuses and those who will be locked out," Leyco said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

"The economic stimulus that is being drawn now should facilitate the building of massive information technology and free access to the internet and free distribution of computers to the poor," he added.

Earlier, PLM moved to give all its students a passing remark this semester after a survey showed that up to 50 percent of its students and around 40 percent of its faculty said they did not have access to stable internet connection.

With this, Leyco said officials should prioritize the education sector as the country eases into the new normal.

"COVID-19 just defined the future of education," he said. "Thus, the new economy that would emerge must carry education as an essential component of social advancement that requires top priority."