Free internet access to be provided in schools- Duterte

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President said in his report to Congress that the government plans to give free internet access in schools as the education department transitions to online and blended learning amid the COVID-19 crisis. 

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), in coordination with the education sector, would implement the free internet connection, the President said. 

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“In line with the shift to alternative modes of learning such as online or digital learning, the DICT directed its regional offices to coordinate with the DepEd (Department of Education), Commission on Higher Education, SUCs (state universities and colleges), and other educational institutions for the prompt installation and deployment of the Free WiFi Internet Access Service,” Duterte said.

The President said the free internet connection program is part of the DICT’s Memorandum on “Providing Adequate Free WiFi/Internet Access and connectivity for Public Educational institutions.”

Duterte remained firm on canceling face-to-face classes until a COVID-19 vaccine is available. The Department of Education agreed with the President and decided to deliver education through blended learning, which is a combination of multimedia, online classes, and printed modules.

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President Rodrigo Duterte and Vice- president Leni Robredo earlier expressed his doubts on DepEd’s readiness for the implementation of blended learning.

Secretary earlier disputed reports that the Department of Education (DepEd) is not ready for blended learning as schools open on August 24. 

“I would like to dispute that, we are still in the month of June, and our original proposal is to open on August 24,” Briones said.

“These approaches are not really new,” Briones said, referring to the use of alternative learning modalities.

“We have been monitoring policies, and we have been preparing for the eventuality of having to develop alternatives,” she added.

Also read: Poverty in Philippines seen to increase- World Bank

But as for the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines, students from poor rural areas would be left behind if DepEd would continue its opening of classes on August 24 through alternative learning.
 
The ACT said about 50 percent of the reported 6.4 million enrollees are only from three largely urbanized regions that had easy access to online or remote enrollment. 
 
“Meanwhile, the low turnout in the remaining 14 regions… tells of the ‘severely limited’ access in these areas where ‘economic conditions are harsher,'” the group said in a Monday statement.
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