Internet service is also a ‘problem’ for DepEd, Briones says

Published February 18, 2021, 4:22 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

While it implements online learning as one of the alternative learning delivery modalities amid the pandemic, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that the stability of internet service remains a challenge for the education sector – as a whole. 

Briones, during the press briefing of Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, Jr. on Thursday, Feb. 18, said that poor internet service – as well as internet connectivity – in many areas affect the delivery of education to students at this time. 

“We recognize that it’s not sufficient,” Briones said, referring to the stability of internet connection in the country. “That is really an issue that DepEd [Department of Education] is not responsible for but we recognize it as a problem,” she added. 

In particular, Briones said that internet connectivity is a major issue when it comes to distributing learning gadgets to students especially in far-flung and remote areas. “We have been receiving donations of learning gadgets and our target here are the small schools or what we call the ‘Last Mile’ schools,” she added. 

Last Mile schools are those located in geographically isolated and disadvantaged and conflict-affected areas (GIDCA) without resources and facilities. 

As defined by DepEd, Last Mile schools are “those with less than four classrooms, usually makeshift and nonstandard ones; no electricity; no funds for repairs or new construction projects in the last four years; and a travel distance of more than one hour away from the center, accessible only through difficult terrain.” 

These are also the schools with multi-grade classes, with less than five teachers, and a population of less than 100 learners, wherein more than 75% are indigenous peoples (IP). 

As of 2019, DepEd said around 7,144 schools across the country have been identified as needing immediate support. 

Briones said that it is a challenge for DepEd to provide gadgets to students in these areas because “aside from not having internet connectivity, they also don’t have electricity.”

In these areas, Briones said that various interventions are being done by DepEd at the school level. “We have done that [learning delivery] through radio and others,” she added. 

Briones also assured that DepEd continues to equip the parents on how to assist their children under distance learning. “We also encourage better coordination between the parents and teachers for the continued learning of the students,” she ended.