By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
In order to guide those who want to donate Information and Communications Technology (ICT) equipment to public schools, the Department of Education (DepEd) has issued minimum specifications for various gadgets and devices that teachers and learners can use for distance learning.
The office of DepEd Undersecretary for Administration Alain Pascua, through the Information and Communications Technology Service (ICTS), recommended minimum specifications for laptops, desktops, tablet PCs, tablets, smartphones, and internet services that will be donated to public schools, teachers, and/or students.
“These minimum specifications will facilitate the conduct of distance education during the COVID-19 pandemic and such other emergencies in the future, and will be appropriate to the digital contents and software applications that will be installed by DepEd,” Pascua explained.
Based on the minimum technical specifications set by DepEd, laptops to be donated for teachers or desktop for the use of students must have 1.6Ghz based speed, with turbo speed; 8 GB RAM memory, 13 inches screen size, 512 GB HDD SATA, with built-in speakers and camera, wireless and bluetooth connectivity, keyboard, optical or wireless mouse, and headset.
For the use of Junior and Senior High School students, DepEd recommends 2-in-1 tablet PC or those with convertible or detachable keyboard with 1.1 GHz base clock speed, 4GB memory, 10 inches screen size, with internal storage of 32 GB, with built-in speakers and camera, wireless and bluetooth connectivity, keyboard, optical or wireless mouse, and headset.
For Tablets, DepEd said that the processor should be quadcore 1.3 GHz, with 2GB memory, 8 inches screen, 32 GB storage, with front and rear camera, Android 9.0 operating system, and with wifi and bluetooth.
Smartphones should have Octa-core 2.2 GHz as processor, with 2GB memory, 6 inches screen, 32 GB storage, with front and rear camera, Android 8.1 operating system, and with wifi and bluetooth.
Preferably, Pascua said all ICT equipment to be donated should be branded and if volume is allowed, the casing should be cyan blue as an anti-fencing measure.
For internet services, DepEd said a minimum of P500 per month (10GB bandwidth) for teachers and P300 per month (6GB bandwidth) for students are ideal.
Shift to distance or blended learning
Due to the COVID-19 crisis in the country, DepEd said that distance learning will be a major component of learning delivery for the incoming school year.
Through a blended/distance learning approach, DepEd said that it can still provide learning opportunities to students without requiring them to come to school. Among the blended/distance learning modalities that the agency will use is online learning through various resources such as the “DepEd Commons.”
Pascua said that the minimum technical specifications for gadgets were issued for the reference of donors. “We only dwell on minimum specs, not on the cost except for the internet services,” he explained.
For learners in lower grade levels, Pascua said that smartphones and tablets, which are similar except that tablets have bigger screens, may be ideal. “For high school, Tablet PC, not tablet, is more appropriate because it can be used with productivity tools,” he added.
Pascua said that there are many local government units (LGUs) and groups from the private sector which are expressing their intent to donate gadgets for public schools. In cases where donations have been made before the issuance of the minimum technical specifications from DepEd, he noted that these will no longer be reviewed.
Pascua said that the schools can still accept gadgets donated even if these fall under the minimum specifications. “But we prefer that these are compliant so we can maximize the use of these gadgets,” he added.
For the donor’s reference, Pascua noted that there is no need to purchase Microsoft Office as DepEd already has a special Volume Licensing Agreement that allows the said software to be installed in all devices used in public schools.
Upon request, Pascua said that DepEd can arrange an “email of eligibility” for donors from Microsoft that can be provided to device manufacturers to build fresh devices with a discounted Windows 10 Operating System.
Pascua noted that donors or benefactors are also encouraged to indicate whether the provision of ICT gadgets are given by way of donation or by commodatum. In case of donations, DepEd recommends that such be made through a Deed of Donation, in favor of the Schools Division Office (SDO) or the schools themselves (if these schools are implementing units), for purposes of proper recording and accountability. In case of commodatum, the same should be made through a written agreement following the same process.
However, DepEd reminded that the benefactor “is not precluded from making donations directly in favor of the teachers and students, in which case, the DepEd is “under no obligation to undertake monitoring and control of inventory or render final accounting of items.”
Upon request, DepEd said that it can also provide terms of reference and bidding documents that have been used in previous successful procurement of ICT equipment for ready reference of the donor.
Aside from online learning, DepEd noted that lessons will also be delivered to the students in the comfort and safety of their homes through digital or printed modules which will be delivered to the homes of the students, or picked up by their parents at designated places, within coordinated schedules and via television or radio-based instruction.