The sudden change in the education landscape prompted the Government-Academe-Industry Network, Inc. (GAIN) to gather key government leaders and decision-makers with the hopes of addressing the challenges the industry is now facing.
While in some webinars, representatives from the education sector reiterated that they are trying to design learning schemes that don’t necessarily require internet connection, it still seems inevitable not to go digital, at least at this point.
Atty. Cinderella Filipina S. Benitez-Jaro, executive director of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) zeroed in on the responsibility to provide a mechanism to continue with accessible education and asked for everyone’s support, especially from the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) when it comes to connectivity and the remedies they would take for schools.
In the virtual forum, CHED highlighted its plans to implement a flexible learning system and faculty and development of open education resources but stressed the need for assistance for technical support from Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and State Universities and Colleges (SUCs).
For its part, the DICT, represented by Emmy Lou Versoza-Delfin, director for ICT Industry Development Bureau, DICT, outlines the department’s initiatives in navigating through the new landscape in which connectivity has become essential.
Delfin explained that the National Broadband Program aims to improve the country’s internet speed by fast-tracking the deployment of fiber optic cables. At present, there are 862 government agencies connected to the fiber-optic network through the GovNet project.
The rollout of The Free WiFi Access in public places and state universities and colleges in the past is hoped to provide Filipinos access points where they can connect to the internet, having 3,832 live sites in 17 regions, 78 provinces, and 865 municipalities and cities.
Delfin also mentioned that the Tech4ED Centers provide access points for individuals and communities to bridge the digital and education divide. There are more than 4,300 centers established nationwide, having a presence in 81 provinces, 92% of all Philippine cities, and 67% of all municipalities. The Digital Teachers and Leaders aims to equip teachers and facilitators with the skills needed to conduct online classes.
The private sector, represented by Dr. Luis Maria Calingo, president of the Holy Angel University, shared his concerns on new teaching strategies to ensure a good learning experience despite social distancing. This is on top of issues on “higher tuition fees for Zoom Universities.”
“Quality online education takes a lot of work,” said Dr. Calingo. “We need to dedicate adequate resources to design a completely different kind of course, smaller modular pieces, different types of assessments, technology to monitor how students are picking up, asynchronous delivery of material, flip classrooms, online projection of materials, online interactions and so on.”
Calingo also came up with suggestions such as accelerating the connectivity of towns and municipalities, especially outside the National Capital Region (NCR). He also saw the need to redesign curricula into competency-based education to enable graduates in making a value-adding contribution upon entering the workforce in the new normal.”