WITH HIS unceasing efforts to mitigate the adverse effects of COVID-19 to public education, Mayor Carmelo “Pogi” Lazatin, Jr. cascades another wave of educational assistance program which is anchored to the city government’s education continuity plan: “The distribution of internet cards for the exclusive use of Grades 4-12 public school students.”
Each internet card can be used for a maximum of three (3) years, providing students with better and more stable internet access during online classes. It can be recalled that a total of 700 access points were installed city-wide for free WIFI connection, 200 of which were paid for by the city government for P20 million, while the other 500 are being installed for free.
Mayor Lazatin, Chief Adviser and Tactician IC Calaguas and Exec. Asst. IV Reina Manuel allocated 57,530 internet cards to the city’s public school students. The said students are the same beneficiaries of the free tablets distributed by the city government earlier.
Amid the burdening health crisis and in less than two years as mayor, Lazatin has been lauded by the Department of Education (DepEd). The award was conferred during the recent virtual recognition of Government and Community Stakeholders recognizing the topmost involvement and participation of various stakeholders in ensuring that education must continue amidst the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. In January alone, Lazatin has allotted P209 million to purchase 61,200 computer tablets for 55,000 Grades 4 to 12 students and 3,000 school teachers in 53 public schools, and 3,200 scholars in the City College of Angeles (CCA) intended for distance education as the raging pandemic rapidly cripples every socio-economic fiber of our society.
The country’s education system shifted to distance learning, where students learn from their homes via modules, online classes, and education programs aired over TV and radio, after the government prohibited in-person classes due to the threat of the coronavirus. Education Secretary Leonor Briones has said she was pushing for the country’s education system to move towards online or technology-mediated learning because Filipino students may be left behind in global competitiveness.
DepEd and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) earlier allowed the construction of common towers in public schools, which are seen to expand connectivity in underserved areas and help telcos save on expenses. Recently, DepEd also sealed a partnership with Converge ICT Solutions Inc., and Pacific Kable Net as part of its efforts to innovate the delivery of education in the country. The partnership with the telecom firms will pave the way for the use of their fiber connectivity and cable channels at no cost to the government to ensure the delivery of digital learning materials to learners through DepEd TV and DepEd Commons, among others.
DepEd is eyeing August 23 as the start of classes for the school year 2021-2022. If this pushes through, students would only have six (6) weeks of break, which is shorter from the usual two (2) months. The current school year will end on July 10. Schools have stopped face-to-face classes for almost a year now, forcing students and teachers to shift to distance learning.