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Protect Wildlife learning communities to benefit from Smart’s School-in-a-Bag

by SMART Public Affairs | Dec 11, 2020
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The School-in-a-Bag donation is part of the partnership between Protect Wildlife and Smart’s parent company PLDT, Inc. (PLDT) for inclusive education for wildlife and biodiversity conservation.
Photo shows (L-R): Smart School-in-a-Bag program head Mary Jane Francisco, Protect Wildlife Deputy Chief of Party Joey Manfredo, Smart AVP for Community Partnerships Stephanie V. Orlino, and Protect Wildlife Chief of Party Rebecca Paz
To help bridge the digital divide for ‘last mile schools’ and provide access to educational content on wildlife and biodiversity conservation, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) and Protect Wildlife, a project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), jointly funded 20 School-in-a-Bag packages for off-grid learning communities.  

The School-in-a-Bag is part of the partnership between Protect Wildlife and Smart’s parent company PLDT, Inc. (PLDT) for inclusive education for wildlife and biodiversity conservation. Together with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Protect Wildlife project aims to reduce threats to biodiversity and illegal trade of wildlife in ecologically significant areas in Palawan, Region 3, Region 9, and Region 12, while also promoting social and economic development in local communities.  

A #LearnSmart initiative, the School-in-a-Bag is designed to provide access to technology, connectivity, content, and a disaster-resilient pedagogy even for schools in remote areas without electricity. Each water-resistant backpack carries a laptop, tablet, and DVD player for the teacher, and 10 student tablets that are all pre-loaded with interactive, multimedia content accessible even if offline.  

“Because the Philippines is an archipelagic country composed of 7,641 islands, many schools are located far from the center, accessible only through difficult terrain. Some children have to trek for hours or cross streams just to get to school,” Smart AVP for Community Partnerships Stephanie V. Orlino explains. These schools are also usually without access to electricity and connectivity.  

“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 adds.    

In partnership with Protect Wildlife, the portable digital classrooms to be deployed will also include educational materials on wildlife and biodiversity conservation, such as flash cards, worksheets, and storybooks featuring iconic Philippine wildlife. Since the bags will be going to off-grid learning communities, solar panels and battery charging units are also included in the package.   

"The School-in-a-Bag initiative is being delivered at precisely the time when a solution is needed most and will be most impactful. We thank Smart for your timeliness in delivering learning tools to students during the pandemic and for helping USAID sustain the work of Protect Wildlife in classrooms across the country," Protect Wildlife Deputy Chief of Party Joey Manfredo says.  

Teachers of School-in-a-Bag beneficiary communities are also trained on the CVIF-Dynamic Learning Program (CVIF-DLP), a pandemic-resilient strategy that supports distance learning and works in both online and offline delivery modalities. Supported by Smart and PLDT-Smart Foundation (PSF) for over a decade, CVIF-DLP is one of only three supplemental learning materials being endorsed by the Department of Education (DepEd Philippines) for school year 2020-2021. Ready-to-use Junior and Senior High School Learning Activity Sheets can be downloaded for free from DepEd Commons at www.commons.deped.gov.ph.  

The company previously supported Protect Wildlife during the Philippine staging of Zoohackathon, a global competition that engages new and up-and-coming talents in the app developer community—from university students, coders, and wildlife enthusiasts.  

Zoohackathon’s run in November 2019 gathered 10 teams from all over the Philippines, that presented digital tools intended to tackle the challenges of reporting wildlife trafficking, enforcing environmental laws, and raising awareness on wildlife conservation.   

Backed by Smart’s Developer Network, the pilot Philippine leg featured mentorship talks on digital innovation and technopreneurship.  

“Protect Wildlife is grateful to our successful partnerships that leverage on the power of connectivity and innovation to address challenges in protecting the environment and conserving our natural resources,” Protect Wildlife Chief of Party Rebecca Paz says.  

"We thank Smart's shared interest in wildlife conservation  - our mission over the last five years  - which has given us the opportunity for true sustainability," Manfredo adds.   
For more information about School-in-a-Bag, send an email to LearnSmart@smart.com.ph.

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