Group cites need to address ‘digital divide’ among students

Published January 23, 2021, 4:11 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

A child rights group highlighted the importance of having access to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) which is critical to address the digital divide between children in highly urbanized areas and those from poor households especially those who are living in remote and conflict-affected areas such as Mindanao.


To ensure children’s learning access in conflict-affected Mindanao, Save the Children Philippines (SCP) has partnered with wireless services provider Smart Communications Inc. (Smart) to donate four School-in-a-Bag packages for learning communities in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

SCP Chief Executive Officer Atty. Alberto Muyot said that organization has been providing life-changing support to the most deprived and marginalized children in the last four decades, to ensure children have a fulfilled life.

Muyot explained that the organization is honored to partner with Smart Communications in “fulfilling the rights of children to have access to inclusive and quality education especially during the massive school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

A former Undersecretary of the Department of Education (DepEd), Muyot said that accessible ICT is very crucial in ensuring that children, regardless of their location and economic status, are given equal opportunities in learning.

The partnership, Muyot explained, will support Save the Children’s implementation of the “Safe Schools of the Future” program in BARMM areas. The program is also being supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

SCP noted that the partnership aims to sustain another year of inclusive learning. Under the partnership, four portable digital classrooms will be deployed to schools in Lumba-Bayabao, Lanao del Sur, including an integrated Madrasah.

Madrasah Education is a comprehensive program in public and private schools that aims to provide basic education curriculum within the context of Muslim culture, customs, traditions, and interests through the integration of the Arabic Language and Islamic Values Education (ALIVE).

A #LearnSmart initiative, the School-in-a-Bag is designed to provide access to technology, connectivity, content, and disaster-resilient learning strategies even for schools in remote areas without electricity.

Each water-resistant backpack carries a laptop for the teacher, 20 tablets for students to access award-winning interactive applications even if offline, and a Smart LTE pocket WiFi which teachers can use to download additional content wherever there is power and connectivity. The total value of each School-in-a-bag is P200,000 or approximately $4,100.

Smart Community Partnerships VP Darwin Flores said the deployment supports SCP’s educational work in BARMM and the “aspiration of our Muslim brothers and sisters toward inclusive development.”

Teacher beneficiaries of Smart and Save the Children’s School-in-a-Bag packages will also be trained on the Central Visayan Institute Foundation-Dynamic Learning Program (CVIF-DLP), a pandemic-resilient strategy that supports distance learning and works in both online and offline delivery modalities.

Supported by Smart and PLDT-Smart Foundation (PSF) for over a decade, CVIF-DLP is one of only three supplemental learning materials being endorsed by the DepEd Philippines for school year 2020-2021. Ready-to-use Junior and Senior High School CVIF-DLP Learning Activity Sheets can be downloaded for free from “DepEd Commons.”