Bringing ICT to Philippine Schools
The Philippine government has an ICT plan in place which aims to lay ensure access to the latest developments in ICT, as well as develop competence in designing, producing and using ICT instructional materials.
If you're browsing this site, congratulations! You belong to only 1.1 percent of Filipinos who have access to the net.
Out of a total population of 80-plus million, there are only two million of you with the ability to tap into the explosion of information that teems in cyberspace. Imagine life without Ragnarok and Friendster. Yahoo mail or Google. Or chatrooms. Or encyclopedia.com for your research papers
Why, you'd actually have to go to your school's live...musty...library! Or crack open your parents' old-school Collier's Encyclopedia, circa 1979. And maybe even shell out a few bucks for a handy dandy Roget's thesaurus.
Books! A funny concept for those who can easily download portions of Gray's anatomy for science class, or pick out the Top Women Mathematicians in History, or check out the bios of your local officials for SocSci.
At home, a dial-up connection using a pre-paid internet card on your Pentiums 1 or 2 can maybe do the job. May take plenty of time to download your assignments but it's certainly doable within limits. For fancier graphics downloads, a broadband connection in an internet cafe is godsend. (Except that it may be tempting to aimlessly surf the web or get hookled to online gaming.)
But if you were in high school three or four years ago, you would know first hand if your school was one of the 17 percent of 7,509 secondary schools equipped with PCs. If your school turned out to be one of the lucky ones, it would still be doubtful if you'd be connected to the Web. Only a teensy 1.16 percent of this already small group had online access.
PC use in schools
Now how do you think those PCs were used in school?
In private schools, familiarization began in the second grade; for public schools, it began in the fourth grade under the subject HELE or Home Economics and Livelihood Education.
If you were a high school student then, chances are, you were probably way ahead of what the schools taught you about computers. Why, you've been downloading MP3 files your whole life!
Because high school computer education meant going through basic applications many of you take for granted-word processing, spreadsheets, database management, creating Power Point presentations and…surfing the web!
Sometimes, you got lucky. Sometimes your high school would actually teach you bits of programming, and-fun!-show you how to design a website.
Usually, however, computer subjects fell under the subject of THE, or Technology and Home Economics, which meant formally studying the technology, with little or no connection to other subjects like Math or English or Science or Pilipino. There was just not enough money or resources to do so.
You, however, probably learned all about computers and its benefits outside of school. You probably did so by actually and simply just using it. To pay games, meet friends, design flyers for a school play, research, send emails, create your own blog, scan and manipulate pictures, etc. etc.
In short, you probably know more about computers and their application-or to use its fancy new name, ICT or Information and Communication Technology-than most of your high school teachers. Many of them probably operate on traditional mindsets, and their fear of this newfangled technology prevents what could be a more thorough and creative use of ICT. For your benefit as students. And theirs.
Of course, the difficulty in pushing ICT in schools is not all your teachers' fault. Their hesitance towards technology is only one aspect of other very real problems. They're faced with outdated equipment, non-existent ICT facilities, and inadequately maintained resources. Sometimes you only have to look around in your own school.
Schools also have to wait or depend or beg for money from the government or from outside funding agency to finance their ICT upgrades. Often, your school is under the mercy of outside service providers for the software needed to deliver meaningful ICT courses to you.
To top that, did you know that 38.9 percent of all schools in the
And even with computers and a telephone line, 81.1 percent of schools still aren't connected to the Internet.
Equipping our schools
Is something being done then to help the schools to be technologically equipped?
The government actually has an ICT plan in place to set up the foundation for ICT-based education, research and development, and training. This includes providing infrastructure, technical support, and a curriculum improvement program for your teachers. It hopes to make sure they have access to the latest developments in ICT, and trained to become competent in creating and using ICT instructional materials.
By 2009, the
- 75 percent of high schools and 50 percent of elementary schools will have a computer lab equipped with basic multimedia equipment.
- All science-oriented public high schools will be connected to the Internet
- All public schools will have an electronic library system
- 75 percent of public school teachers will have been trained in basic computer skills as well as computer-aided instruction, and also known how to surf the net
So what's the plan in the next five years to make these wishes come true?
First, there's a lot of intensive training for your teachers so they can begin to be as savvy in ICT use as some of you. For example, there is the PCs for
Then there are grants from international entities and private to help the government realize its goals. The ABS-CBN Foundation has developed multimedia packages featuring instructional practices in English, Science and Math. Each of the 996 schools that benefited from Japan's US$12 million grant, received 20 desktop PCs, two printers, one external modem, one software package, and teacher training.
Diwa Asia Publishing Group Inc has launched its iDIWA e3 learning Program that provides a total elearning solution for schools, educators, students and even parents. The program features elearning modules, connectivity, mobile information and messaging services, an online elearning portal and teacher training.
Finally, the government itself has tried to make inroads in ICT. Each year, the Department of Science and Technology allocates P20 to P30 million to support computer acquisition in schools. The "text2teach" program helps Grade 5 and 6 students from selected public schools view educational science videos downloaded via cell phones and satellite systems right into their classrooms.
There are also mobile computer classrooms housed in air conditioned buses, mini computer labs in selected schools, and teaching and learning modules on CD-ROMs distributed to science-and-technology high schools.
Among others, the DepEd's has its own computerization program, which to date, has connected 125 schools. And three IT centers-two elementary and one secondary-are being established in each of the 15 regions.
The government has taken action in making sure you do not get left behind in the field of ICT. Although it will take more time and effort for you to really experience the benefits, IT is here and IT is changing the way you study and learn. Now, are you up to the challenges that lie ahead?
"The Philippines: ICT Use in Education," by Ms. Tian Belawati, Ph.D., from the report, Meta-survey on the Use of Technologies in Education in Asia and the Pacific 2003-2004, edited by Glen Farrell, Ph.D. and CĂ©dric Wachholz