Learning is now more fun for students of Balanti Elementary School in Tarlac, who received the digital learning package called School-in-a-Bag from Smart employees.
Balanti Elementary School in Tarlac has the ironic situation of being “so near yet so far.” It is located near the city but is not as accessible as other schools.
During the rainy season, some of its students walk up to four hours on rough, muddy roads to go to school. Visitors need to cross a river and do a short hike to reach the campus, which serves 200 kindergarten and elementary students.
Recently, employees of Smart Communications traveled from Metro Manila to Balanti Elementary School to deliver a Smart School-in-a-Bag. This is a portable digital classroom designed to facilitate learning in remote areas. The bag contains a laptop, tablets, TV, pocket Wi-Fi, and various digital and printed educational content. Also included in the package are teacher training and yearlong monitoring.
“The School-in-a-Bag is a big help to us. Because of our location, we don’t get a lot of assistance or visits from the private sector. We are really thankful to Smart and its employees for this donation,” said teacher-in-charge Cristy Gomez.
Smart employees and their families sponsored the P100,000 kit by participating in a program called Smart Saturdays. For three Saturdays last year, employees were invited to watch blockbuster movies with their loved ones and buy special event shirts for a certain amount. The collected amount was enough to put together seven School-in-a-Bag kits for underserved schools.
The Smart Saturdays program is ongoing and is expected to raise more funds to benefit more far-flung schools.
Smart as a company has also sponsored several School-in-a-Bag units, and has successfully called on individuals and organizations to sponsor these digital learning kits. Some of these included solar panels so they could be used in schools without electricity.
“To make an impact in the lives of students, we look for those who are really in need. The School-in-a-Bag program falls under our ‘technology for all’ framework. We want to give students in remote areas access to digital tools that can improve their education,” said Smart Community Partnerships Head Darwin Flores.
Previous school-recipients of the Smart School-in-a-Bag have reported enhanced literacy and heightened interest in learning among their students.
Smart and its partner donors have turned over 66 School-in-a-Bag units to learning communities all over the country. The donors include a high school student who collected money from her relatives when she was only 15 years old.
Those who would like to help may email LearnSmart@smart.com.ph and visit Smart Communities on Facebook for more details.