DepEd to have 1.3M tablets, computers in 2020 as education sector shifts to COVID-19 new normal

Jaehwa Bernardo and Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 21 2020 09:39 PM

MANILA - The Department of Education on Thursday said it would have some 1.3 million tablets, laptops and computers this year as schools shift to a blended education system during the coronavirus new normal to avoid exposing students to the virus.

The DepEd needs to ensure that teachers and students have internet-capable equipment to make the most of the DepEd Commons, an online platform that can be used for virtual classes that also serve as a repository of learning modules, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said during the Senate's Committee of the Whole hearing.

"Dito ilalagay 'yung mga lessons, exams at tips for teaching. Ang parents naman masusundan din ang lessons ng kanilang mga anak," Briones said.

The DepEd will be purchasing 36,676 laptops, televisions, lapel microphones, and speakers this year, and will receive some 54,350 laptops, 2,350 televisions, and 167,500 tablets procured last year, Education Undersecretary Alain Pascua said in a text messsage to reporters.

By the end of 2020, the DepEd will have 475,650 tablets and 634,877 desktop computers for 21.4 million public school students, and 190,574 laptops for public school teachers. 

The laptops only account for 22 percent of public school teachers in the Philippines, while the tablets and desktops cover 94 percent of the total number of public school students.

The number of units is sufficient, as a DepEd study showed that only 11 percent, or 93,221, of the 847,467 public school teachers in the country do not have computers at home, Pascua said.

"The direction is to provide a laptop for each teacher . . . The Department needs to recognize that teachers who use their own devices bought these out of their own resources. It is still the responsibility of the state to provide government-issued laptops." 

As of May 20, 1 million computer devices have been distributed to 44,155 public schools nationwide, Pascua said.

According to Briones, the government will also tap television and radio stations to broadcast lessons at specific times to ensure that students from far-flung areas can still study under the distance-learning scheme.

Last week, Senate Committee on Basic Education chair Sherwin Gatchalian said most schools are still unprepared to shift to the blended learning system, as only 15 percent of Filipino teachers have been trained to deliver alternative modes of education, while some 84 percent said they are "not yet ready."

The opening of classes has been moved to August from June, as the country continues to battle the novel coronavirus pandemic.