Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has filed a bill that seeks to provide a laptop for all K-12 learners enrolled in public schools.
Gatchalian filed Senate Bill (SB) 474, or the One Learner, One Laptop Act, to ensure that learners can receive quality digital education and distance learning at all times and under all circumstances.
He recalled that learners struggled at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic because of the lack of devices and unstable Internet connectivity when schools transitioned from face-to-face to remote learning.
“The intent of this priority measure is to ensure that all learners will be able to continue with their education even in the midst of emergency situations or disasters that could disrupt face-to-face classes,” Gatchalian said.
“Even if physical interactions are already in full swing, these devices would still be needed for any school work,” he added.
Under the bill, the Department of Education (DepEd) secretary, through the Bureau of Learning Resources, shall formulate the policies, standards, and guidelines for the implementation and management of providing one laptop for every public school learner.
The bill also mandates the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to accelerate the installation, deployment, and activation of free public wi-fi in all public basic education institutions.
This is consistent with the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act (Republic Act No. 10929), which ensures reliable and secure Internet connection for digital and distance learning.
The DICT will also escalate the building of the national infrastructure for information and communications technology (ICT).
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) will be mandated to identify locations for the construction of telecommunications towers, giving priority to missionary areas which remain unconnected, unserved, or underserved by Public Telecommunication Entities (PTEs).
PTEs will have two years to complete the building of the targeted number of towers when the proposed measure takes effect.
Under the proposed measure, learners shall receive subsidized data plans if their parents are listed as beneficiaries under the “Listahanan” of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).