MANILA, Philippines — In her last two State of the Nation addresses, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo identified the Cyber Corridor as one of her priority projects.
She said the Cyber Corridor “encompasses centers of technology and learning running the length of all the super regions,” with the national broadband network and satellite facilities linking the whole archipelago.
Education Secretary Jesli Lapus said “we have enabling bilateral agreements and memorandum of understanding [on the CEP].”
A Department of Education (DepEd) report said the “ICT-based education agenda is included in the 10-point cooperation contained in the memorandum of understanding signed on June 5, 2006, during the Philippines-China Economic Forum.”
The Cyberspace Education Program (CEP) is “also in accordance with the Framework Agreement on Bilateral Economic and Trade Cooperation signed on Jan. 15, 2007,” and also “approved by the National Economic Development Authority board in March 2007.”
Lapus said the CEP project “should not be confused with computer training or non-classroom distance learning. Also, [it] will not replace teachers and the school curriculum.”
Training for 40,000 teachers
Through the project, the DepEd “expects substantial improvement in student performance,” Lapus said. At the same time, its network “will provide cost-effective teacher training to some 470,000 public school teachers, enabling them to upgrade their capabilities using virtual teacher training modules.”
“We expect to save up to P60.3 billion resulting from efficiency in communications, teacher training and in the management of the school system. And, of course, the huge economic value of an improved human capital in the country is pretty obvious,” Lapus said.
The project uses satellite technology to provide an efficient and cost-effective solution to the need to deliver educational services to public elementary and secondary schools throughout the country.
Targets 13.6-M students
The project targets an annual coverage of 13.6 million students.
“The real challenge in basic education lies in narrowing the disparity between those who perform well and those who do not. Those in far-flung areas will benefit from the technology since they will be given access to our best teachers and our best resource materials,” he said.
The program is a must, said Lapus, citing challenges in education like local students’ “low mastery levels in both elementary and secondary grades, lowest grades in science and mathematics and poor performance in international benchmark exams, as well as high dropout rates.”
“Only seven out of 10 pupils entering Grade 1 will finish Grade 6, while only four will finish high school. The reasons for dropping out include lack of pre-school preparation, disinterest in the lessons, poverty, malnutrition and transportation problems,” he said.