Addressing digital divide Legarda files “One Tablet, One Student” Bill photo Philippine Star
Education

Addressing digital divide: Legarda files “One Tablet, One Student” Bill

Oct 28, 2021, 4:12 AM
James Veloso

James Veloso

Writer

Under Rep. Loren Legarda's House Bill No. 10405 (One Tablet, One Student Act of 2021), each public elementary and secondary student as well as students enrolled in State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) will be provided a tablet that they can use in their studies.

SEEING the need to adapt to the new learning system during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, Antique Representative Loren Legarda has filed a bill seeking to provide each public-school students with a tablet phone.

Under House Bill No. 10405 (One Tablet, One Student Act of 2021), each public elementary and secondary student as well as students enrolled in State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) will be provided a tablet that they can use in their studies.

Students who already have their own personal learning gadgets shall be given educational assistance in the form of an internet allowance to cover the cost of connectivity.

Legarda, who as former Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance introduced numerous interventions in the budget allocation of the education sector, urged both Houses of Congress, now working on the proposed 2022 national budget, to consider allocating funds for the program.

She believes that this will greatly help public schools students adapt to the online mode of learning amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Personal experience

Legarda related that, in the Lone District of Antique which she currently represents at the House of Representatives, there are around 30,194 students from Kinder to Senior High School that do not have devices such as smartphones or tablets.

This hinders them from coping with the flexible learning system currently being implemented by DepEd due to the pandemic.

“For Antique alone, if a basic and durable tablet costs approximately 4,000 pesos, we will be needing an additional P120 million in order to be able to provide for all these students. We have to make sure that our budget, especially amid this ongoing pandemic, is able to cater to our children’s educational needs,” Legarda added.

According to DepEd Central Office, if the government plans to provide information communication technology (ICT) devices to aid the students in their education, a 3- to 6-year computerization program that will require P154 billion per year is the proposed solution to address the digital divide.

The Department also said that this proposal, should it be approved by Congress, will prioritize students in Grades 4, 7, and 10 each year.

Based on DepEd data, there are twenty-seven million elementary and high school students enrolled in the current academic year.

On the other hand, there are approximately 1.6 million enrolled in SUCs and local universities and colleges (LUCs), based on the data from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

This does not even include the teachers themselves who are likewise in need of such devices.

“While the proposed allocation is staggering, making sure that our students each have access to resources that would help them cope with changes in our educational system is needed for us to ensure that, despite the restrictions in the traditional modalities of classes, our students will still receive the kind of quality education that they deserve,” Legarda said.

She also noted that it is still unknown until when the pandemic will continue to affect the different sectors of our society.

“As such, we do not know for sure when students and teachers can fully go back to having face-to-face classes, especially because new variants of Covid-19 continue to emerge” she pointed out.

“Given this, perhaps it would be in the best interest of our teachers and students if the government will consider giving the students the much-needed gadgets so they can continue receiving their lessons and complying with the class requirements,” Loren added.
“This may not be enough, but this is a good start to help our students who have been appealing for help from the government,” she stressed.

Tags: #LorenLegarda, #DepartmentOfEducation, #blendedmode, #publicschools, #tabletphones


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