Three years after it launched its free Wi-Fi program for public school students at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the city government of Biñan in Laguna, under Mayor Arman Dimaguila, has upscaled its efforts at ensuring that all are be given equal opportunity.
In 2020, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the city government of Biñan in Laguna, under Mayor Arman Dimaguila, made a pledge: no Biñanense student will be left behind.
As pandemic restrictions forced students and teachers to be confined inside their homes and the national government employed distance learning, the local government provided them with free Wi-Fi connection to ensure they can catch up with their studies amid the global health emergency.
Three years later, schools in the Philippines finally resumed full face-to-face classes following the lifting of the public emergency brought by the pandemic.
But that does not mean that the city government of Biñan will scale down its programs in helping out its students through distance learning.
Quite the opposite, in fact for Biñan. Dimaguila’s programs of ensuring all students in the city be given equal opportunity will be upscaled. True to his pledge at the start of his third term, “mas pagbubutihin pa natin ang pagseserbisyo natin sa mga Biñanense.”
Free Intranet connectivity
On August 15, Dimaguila announced over 87.9 FM Radyo Biñan the launch of the Free Intranet Connectivity Program for the city’s public school students.
Under the new program, public school students in Biñan will receive a modem that will enable them to directly access learning materials and, at the same time, participate in online classes should the need arise.
This program, in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd)’s local Schools Division Office, aims to provide additional learning materials for students as schools shift back to full face-to-face classes.
“Napakalaki ng potential na gamit ng free Intranet connectivity for public school students,” Dimaguila said in a social media post later that day. “Maaari din itong maging platform for virtual or online lectures, video conference, online learning modules at marami pang iba.”
Even as Dimaguila announced the start of the free Intranet program, technicians deployed by the city government have already begun conducting on-site surveys in selected barangays. The actual installation of modems began on August 23 at Barangay Timbao.
Parents are sure to ask the LGU: what makes this new Intranet connectivity program different from the free Wi-Fi program that the Biñan City LGU launched in 2020?
In an interview with OpinYon Laguna, Dimaguila said the new Intranet connectivity program will ensure that more students will have a steady and uninterrupted access to the learning materials they need.
“Ang kaibahan nitong proyekto na ito ay sa bahay natin mismo ilalagay [ang mga modem],” the city executive explained. “Before kasi, doon sa free Wi-Fi program natin, nilagay natin sa mga poste, so 100 connections at a time lang. This time, ang makakaconnect ay anim, so halos lahat ng bahay na may estudyanteng nagaaral sa public school makaka-connect dito.”
Another positive aspect of this new program is that since all the modems are interconnected to a central website, students can have access to DepEd learning materials such as e-books, downloadable files and videos even without an external Internet connection.
That, however, does not mean that students can’t use the modem to connect to the Internet. According to Dimaguila, the LGU will provide free Internet service for the first month after installation.
“Pagkalipas ng isang buwan at nais pa rin ninyong magkaroon ng Internet connection, pwede na po itong lagyan ng Internet load,” he added.
During its first phase, Dimaguila said the program will initially benefit students of Biñan City’s junior high schools.
“Sa ngayon, uunahin muna natin yung mga estudyanteng nakatira sa depressed areas,” the mayor told OpinYon Laguna, adding that one modem will be installed per household.
“Antabayanan po ang mga LGU technician team para sa pagtawag, pag-survey at pag-install ng gagamiting mga device para sa inyong tahanan,” he said.
In recent years, the Dimaguila administration heavily invested in the city’s education sector through various scholarship programs (including its flagship Iskolar ng Biñan program) as well as various improvements to the city’s education infrastructure and equipment.
When asked by OpinYon Laguna for the rationale behind the city government’s high expenditures on education, Dimaguila shared his belief that it is a “lasting investment” that, in the long run, will enable Biñanenses to contribute to the city’s economic progress.
“Sa tingin ko, mas importante yung tiyak natin na ang ating mga mag-aaral may pupuntahang eskwelahan na libre at quality, nang sa gayon ay hindi na rin poproblemahin ng mga magulang kung saan kukunin ang tuition fee nila,” he explained.
City officials also said this latest project of the Biñan LGU is indicative of a “realistic” solution to the issue of providing quality education for all Biñanense students.
"Isang makatotohanang sagot sa malinaw na pananaw ng tunay na pangangailangan sa usapin ng edukasyon," was how Roman Carencia of the Biñan City Public Information Office said in a social media post.
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