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By Merlina Hernando-Malipot 

Link: Manila Bulletin

The Department of Education (DepEd) said that at least P27 billion would be needed in order to provide all teachers in public schools a laptop each. This is in preparation for distance learning becoming the major component of learning delivery this incoming school year due to the COVID-19 crisis in the country.

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Image: Link here.DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones, during the Senate’s Committee of the Whole hearing, said that the department has already completed the Basic Education – Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP) and “we’re getting ready for the implementation part.”

The BE-LCP, Briones said, is DepEd’s major response amid the COVID-19 situation in the country. “It will be distributed to regions for the regional implementation,” she said. “We are initiating blended or distance learning as well as the use of different approaches and various ways to reach the students,” she added.

Distance learning or distance education refers to a form of education wherein there is physical separation of teachers and students during instruction. It entails the use of various technologies in order to facilitate student-teacher and student-student communication in the absence of face-to-face interaction.

To make this possible, Briones said the DepEd is eyeing to provide “laptops for all teachers.” As of last year, DepEd said that there are around 800,000 teachers nationwide.

Funds needed

Meanwhile, Undersecretary for Administration Alain Del Pascua said in order to provide teachers the needed assistance for distance learning—particularly on the issuance of laptops—DepEd needs funds for it.

“The direction is to provide a laptop for each teacher,” Pascua said. “About P27 billion is needed to make that dream a reality,” he added. Asked if the provision for laptop for each teacher is possible before the formal school opening in August, he said: “How I wish we have the funds and that we can do it before August 24.”

Pascua said that the Survey on Teachers Readiness for Distance Education undertaken by DepEd’s Planning Service between April 16-30, 2020 involving 689,329 teacher respondents “reveal that only 77,631 or 11% of them do not have desktop or laptop computers at home.”

Applying that percentage to the total number of teachers nationwide, Pascua said that it can be “estimated that 93,221 of the 847,467 teachers have no computer device.” That estimate, he added, can “already be addressed by the number of laptops the Department has at the moment.”

Pascua noted that the DepEd needs to recognize that teachers who use their own devices bought these out of their own resources. “It is still the responsibility of the state to provide government-issued laptops,” he added.

By entering a ‘new normal’ education, Pascua said that DepEd understands the importance of having internet-capable equipment to establish online learning. “That’s why I am happy to tell you that the Department will be giving away equipment like laptops, tablets, desktop computers and others to our learners and teachers for this,” he said.

To date, Pascua said that 1,042,575 computer devices are distributed across 44,155 public schools or about 93 percent of the total number of public schools. He added that 99,548 of these devices are laptops, 308,150 are tablet PCs, and the rest are desktops.

For the fiscal year (FY) 2020, Pascua said that DepEd will be purchasing 36,676 multimedia packages composed of laptops, televisions, lapel microphones, and speakers. This, he explained, is “in addition to the 54,350 laptops, 2,350 televisions, and 167,500 tablet PCs procured last year that are scheduled to be delivered this year.”

By the end of FY2020, Pascua said 475,650 tablet PCs and 634,877 desktops will be available for use by 21.4 million students or about 94 percent of the 22,746,855 public school students while 190,574 laptops will be available for use by teachers or 22 percent of the total DepEd teaching force.

Pascua also noted that the DepEd’s OUA-ICTS is “contemplating the home-use of these laptops and tablet PCs should face-to-face class interactions become impossible.” Amid the challenges brought about by the COVID-19, Pascua said that DepEd “continues to do everything it can to ensure the education of learners can continue despite the trials we are facing.”

Aside from the use of technology, DepEd assured that other alternative learning modalities will be available depending on the needs of the learners such as the use of television or radio as well as the distribution of printed learning materials, among others.



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