SMART WiMax levels ‘learning field’ in public schools
[June 17, 2010/ Manila] - Thanks to the Internet, a public school student has access to the same website available to students from even the most prestigious private schools.
In the case of the Dr. Arcadio Santos National High School (DASNHS), it is not just the students that will benefit from the Internet connection but also the out-of-school youth who go to the school on weekends to take computer lessons.
The public school in Parañaque, along with the Caloocan City Science High School, were the latest beneficiaries of Wimax or Worldwide Microwave Interoperability of Microwave Access connectivity provided by Smart Communications, Inc. (SMART).
Concepcion Bernaldez, principal of DASNHS, says that their school’s new Internet connection will also benefit out-of-school youth as well as adult elementary and secondary school dropouts who undergo 10 months or 800 hours of classroom learning. The school’s weekend program, she adds, is part of the Department of Education’s (DepEd) “Alternative Learning System”.
The school received 21 computers for its IT laboratory from the Commission on Information and Communication Technology (CICT) in 2008 under the government agency’s iSchools program.
Angelo Armas, IT coordinator of DASNHS, says that about 40 persons participate in their school’s weekend program every year. He explained that each one gets to use one of the 40 computers in the school’s two computer laboratories.
“Most of them are mothers who have no jobs and want to learn more. We have residents of Parañaque and Taguig in our weekend program,” shares Armas.
The provision of SMART WiMax was recently marked by a Switch-On Ceremony at DASNHS with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Paranaque Vice Mayor Gus Tambunting in attendance along with top executives from SMART, DepEd, CICT and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).
“We hope to open up public schools to global sources of information and learning via the Internet,” says Napoleon Nazareno, President and CEO of SMART.
This vision is shared by PGMA who recalled that when she took office in 2004, she hoped to connect the country not just through roads but through the Internet. Countrywide Internet connection, she said, has always been one of the top 10 agenda of her administration.
According to Nazareno, DASNHS is only one of the initial 20 schools that will get WiMax connectivity courtesy of SMART.
“It is important that we raise the ICT competencies of our teachers and students because the Internet is rapidly reshaping our lives. We live in a world that, as the Economist magazine recently put it, is being deluged by digital data,” Nazareno says.
Nazareno says the Internet is changing the way students think and learn because they no longer have to go to the library and borrow books for their research. They can just access the Internet because “the World Wide Web is one gigantic library,” he adds.
“The process of learning is becoming much more interactive and learner-driven. This is a major paradigm shift in education and our schools need to make that transition if they are to be effective in educating the students of the future. That’s why we are very happy to support the efforts of DepEd and CICT who recognize the value of ICT in education and who are leading the way in making that paradigm shift,” explains Nazareno.
Honey Joy Bellen, a senior student at DASNHS, says that the Internet is very useful to her as a writer for their school publication. “It’s really a great help. Kung sa library lang po kami aasa insufficient po yung information. (If we rely only on the books in the library, the information is insufficient),” she explains.
Another graduating student, Matthew Fabic, says that the school’s new and faster connection will be a big help to the students because they can work faster and more efficiently.
WiMax is a telecommunications technology that enables high-speed wireless Internet access to a wide area. SMART is rapidly rolling out its Wimax network to complement its broadband portfolio and provide blanket Internet connectivity for all Filipinos, in line with its efforts to promote ‘Internet for All’.