To help ensure continuous learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s largest and only integrated telco PLDT Inc. (PLDT) and its various units turned over 15 School-in-a-Bag packages to the Department of Education (DepEd) in support of the agency’s Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP).
An initiative of PLDT’s wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), School-in-a-Bag is a portable digital classroom designed to support distance learning, even in remote areas without electricity and internet connectivity. Specially designed for online learning under the new normal, each water-resistant backpack now carries 20 student tablets that are pre-loaded with educational content – including award-winning mother tongue-based interactive apps developed by Smart and academe partners, a teacher’s laptop, a pocket WiFi kit, and more. With these enhancements, the total value of each School-in-a-bag is P200,000 or approximately USD4,100.
“Heeding the call for businesses to rise to the challenges posed by the pandemic, PLDT and Smart are one with the DepEd in ensuring that learning continues. We recognize our important role to keep teachers, students and other members of the academic community connected,” PLDT Chairman and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan said at the turnover held in PLDT’s Makati City headquarters.
“We recognize the important role of communications in education. We look forward to the continuity of this tradition of partnership, generosity and advise as we work together with PLDT and Smart to look for new ways of delivering education to teachers and students,” said DepEd Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones who joined the turnover ceremony virtually.
The donation of 15 School-in-a-Bag packages form part of the 70 bags that will be delivered to DepEd schools this year. These resulted from joint efforts among broadband services provider PLDT Home, corporate business unit PLDT Enterprise, social outreach arm PLDT-Smart Foundation, Smart’s flagship corporate social responsibility (CSR) division Smart Communities, and an employee fund-raising initiative called Smart Saturdays.
“We value this gift from PLDT and Smart which will help us reach more schools, and expand access to gadgets and the Internet, especially for what we have identified as last mile schools. These School-in-a-Bag units will be a great help for both teachers and students under our current distance learning modalities,” said DepEd Undersecretary for Legislative Affairs, External Partnerships, and Project Management Service Tonisito M.C. Umali, ESQ, who was present at the formal turnover ceremony.
Teachers from School-in-a-Bag beneficiary communities are also trained on the CVIF-Dynamic Learning Program (CVIF-DLP), a pandemic-resilient strategy that supports home learning and works in various online and offline delivery modalities. Developed by Ramon Magsaysay laureates and world-renowned theoretical physicists Dr. Christopher Bernido and Dr. Ma. Victoria Carpio-Bernido, the methodology works in all primary and secondary academic levels, as well as in the Alternative Learning System (ALS), and targets the entire spectrum of learners, including Special Education students.
One of only three supplemental learning materials being endorsed by the DepEd for this school year, the CVIF-DLP Learning Activity Sheets for Junior and Senior High School can now be downloaded for free from DepEd Commons at www.commons.deped.gov.ph.
To-date, PLDT, Smart and various donors have deployed 300 portable digital classrooms to DepEd schools, which have helped bridge the digital divide for more than 80,000 underserved students and over 2,000 teachers nationwide.
Since the start of the COVID-19 health crisis, PLDT and Smart have stepped up education efforts to provide relevant tools, technologies, and information during the pandemic. Aside from the School-in-a-Bag donation and implementation of the CVIF-DLP, the Group facilitated zero-rating of the DepEd Commons online platform for subscribers to gain free access to lessons, provided communications support to DepEd’s frontliners, launched free airing of DepEd TV in two channels of affiliate company Cignal TV Inc., and released the Gabay Guro one-stop-app for digital educational resources in time for World Teachers Day 2020.
“We recognize our key role to keep teachers, students and other members of the academic community connected. We will continue to level up our efforts to provide relevant tools, technologies, and information to ensure that there is no learner left behind,” Pangilinan said.
PLDT and Smart recognize 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.
Present during the formal turnover ceremony were DepEd USec Tonisito Umali; PLDT Chairman and CEO Manuel V Pangilinan; PLDT-Smart Chief Sustainability Officer, PLDT SVP and Group Controller, and Smart Chief Financial Officer Chaye Cabal-Revilla; PLDT-Smart Foundation President Esther O. Santos, Smart AVP for Community Partnerships Stephanie V. Orlino, and PLDT-Smart FVP/Group Corporate Communications Head Cathy Yap-Yang. Also, virtually present was Secretary of the Department of Education Leonor Briones.