DepEd, UNDP to launch computerization, solar energy program in Palawan

April 12, 2018

PASIG CITY, April 12, 2018 – Following the successful launch of the computerization and solar power project in Basilan, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in March, the Department of Education (DepEd) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are set to inaugurate the program for Luzon at Bagong Bayan Elementary School in El Nido, Palawan on April 13.  
Nearly 4,000 un-energized public schools in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDAs) in Luzon and Mindanao have started to receive their Information and Communications Technology (ICT) packages in the past two months. An estimated 600,000 children will have access to laptops powered by solar energy this year. 
This is part of the continuous efforts to expand ICT literacy to advance quality education – one of the 17 Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) committed by global leaders in 189 countries. One of the targets is to substantially increase the technical and vocational skills of the youth on ICT by 2030.  
Opportunity for access, innovation
DepEd Undersecretary for Administration Alain Del B. Pascua said that technology will enhance quality of education and offer vast possibilities for learning.
“If used correctly, ICT will improve our teaching methods. It will create new learning opportunities and develop critical thinking, making our students more innovative not only in solving community problems but also in facing global challenges,” Usec Pascua shared.
One of DepEd’s key strategies in achieving equitable access to quality societal services is by using technology to expand its reach in basic education. Since un-energized schools are difficult to reach by regular transportation, ICT should pave the way for efficient access to educational materials for kids in disadvantaged households. 
Expanding citizens’ participation to reach SDGs
UNDP Country Director Titon Mitra stated, “When we improve the ICT literacy of students, we are helping them to dream big and beyond the confines of the four walls of their classrooms. We are also encouraging them to believe that they can shape a better life for their family.”   
“As DepEd’s development partner, UNDP seeks people-centered interventions that translate into better services and lifelong learning opportunities. But time is of the essence. We have to move quickly to reach the margins, especially those children in vulnerable situations, to have meaningful impact,” Mitra added.     
Meanwhile, UNDP programme manager Caroline R. Belisario sees the program as a great opportunity to empower children and communities. “Parents, teachers, LGUs, and CSO partners are all working hard to serve our children. So we urge everyone to ensure the proper delivery and usage of the ICT equipment. Because quality education will help improve lives,” she said.  
Maximizing technology for better services
Meanwhile, DepEd ICT Services Director Abram Y. C. Abanil explains the need to maximize technology to equip students for 21st century competencies and lifelong skills. 
“We hope this program will give equal opportunity for all students across the country. Technology will allow learners to access relevant knowledge. Our goal, though, is to improve ICT skills and application which are needed in various industries. With these global skills, our kids will become self-reliant and productive citizens,” he mentioned.          
To fast-track education service delivery, DepEd entered into an agreement with the UNDP Philippine Country Office on March 29, 2016 for the latter to help procure ICT packages for public schools, including those in the GIDAs.
Aside from deploying community-based monitors during delivery and inspection of the ICT packages, UNDP is also supporting DepEd’s efforts to implement public financial management reforms and to conduct diagnostic studies for capacity development of both government and civil society partners.