For programs aimed at ensuring continuous learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic, education initiatives of PLDT wireless unit, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) were recognized at the opening of the Mobile Learning Week (MLW) 2020 of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Representing the only Philippine company in this year’s UNESCO MLW, Smart Communications AVP for Community Partnerships Stephanie V. Orlino presented how programs like School-in-a-Bag and the Central Visayan Institute Foundation - Dynamic Learning Program (CVIF-DLP) can help bridge the digital divide amid the new normal of education, especially for ‘last mile schools’. The programs were featured under the MLW 2020’s “programs for effective distance learning”.
“Out of the more than 47,000 schools in the country serving over 24M students, 7,144 are considered last mile schools. Because the Philippines is an archipelagic country composed of 7,641 islands, many schools are located far from the center, accessible through difficult terrain. Some children have to trek for hours or cross streams just to get to school,” she explained. These also include schools without access to electricity and have only makeshift classrooms.
The School in a Bag and CVIF-DLP are initiatives under Smart’s #LearnSmart advocacy— an education program which promotes Internet for all through the use of digital technology and innovative strategies to enhance different aspects of learning.
“We asked ourselves: how may we provide access to technology and to inclusive quality education to these last-mile schools? Our answer is the School-in-a-Bag,” Orlino said.
The School-in-a-Bag is a portable digital classroom that generally contains a laptop for the teacher, student tablets to access interactive applications even if offline, and a Smart LTE pocket WiFi kit which teachers can use to download additional content when they visit the city center where there is power and connectivity.
“Off-grid beneficiaries also receive a solar panel and a battery charging station as power source for the devices,” Orlino added.
Teachers of School-in-a-Bag beneficiary communities are also trained on the CVIF-DLP, a pandemic-resilient strategy that supports home learning and works in various delivery modalities. “It can ensure continuous education even for learners with limited to no internet connectivity and with minimal teacher and parent intervention,” Orlino shares.
Developed by Ramon Magsaysay laureates and world-renowned theoretical physicists Dr. Christopher Bernido and Dr. Ma. Victoria Carpio-Bernido, the CVIF-DLP Learning Activity Sheets for Junior and Senior High School are now available in DepEd Commons as a supplemental learning resource for school year 2020-2021.
MLW is the United Nations’ flagship event on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in education. It has been organized by UNESCO and its partners for eight consecutive years.
The online edition of Mobile Learning Week 2020 carries the theme "Beyond Disruption: Technology Enabled Learning Futures". MLW 2020 is set against the backdrop of COVID-19 education disruption and response and aims to shine light on prospects for technology-enabled futures of learning.
Smart, along with its parent company PLDT, recognizes quality education as a foundation in improving people’s lives and obtaining sustainable development. True to the company’s commitment to help the Philippines attain the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, with SDG #4: Quality Education as a key area, education continues to be the flagship CSR program throughout the PLDT Group, with a strong emphasis on digital literacy.
For more information about Smart’s education initiatives, follow Smart Communities on Facebook or send an email to LearnSmart@smart.com.ph