The top government science agency is embarking into innovations and tech solutions that can aid for seamless distance learning for Filipino students as the blended modular and online scheme is being used amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In a recent webinar, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) highlighted the use of television frequencies, digital television and other cutting-edge technologies as the best solutions to the new education scheme that will be implemented in the country.
The government implemented the blended learning and teaching scheme in lieu of the traditional face-to-face method in order to prevent crowding in schools and avert the spread of Covid-19.
Executive Director Dr. Enrico Paringit of DOST’s Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) said that as leader and partner in innovation, the council takes the lead in providing solutions and opportunities to address gaps in making distance learning in the new normal a success.
“DOST-PCIEERD is one with the education sector in contributing to the development of innovations for a more efficient distance learning experience for our dear students. I hope that the technologies, initiatives, and programs that are underscored in this webinar will be enough to inspire you to envision a brighter, more technologically advanced education system for all,” he said.
The initiative is done in response to the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte during his State of the Nation Address “to come up with an integrated program and implementation mechanism to ensure that these TV frequencies are fully utilized by government through the facilities of PTV4 for the utmost benefit of the Filipino people.”
Moving from classroom interaction to distance education is a challenge among teachers, students, and parents because of poor Internet connection, no electricity or power interruption, and gadgets are only for more privileged households.
This digital divide was evident in the National Information and Communication Technology Household Survey 2019 conducted by the Department of Information and Communications Technology, in partnership with the Philippine Statistical Research and Training Institute. It was participated by 43,000 household nationwide.
The study highlighted that 5 percent of households do not have electricity in their homes, less than half of the households have communal radios, around 82.7 percent of the households have television at home.
The study also found that only 8.2 percent have their own fixed telephone line, 24.0 percent have communal cellphones, but only two out of 10 have communal computers; and only 17.7 percent of households have their own Internet access at home, majority of which use the Internet for social media and communication.
Another challenge that the Philippines face is that 87 percent, 48 percent, and 16 percent of public elementary schools and high schools, and public health centers, respectively, and most of the government agencies and units do not have broadband or Internet connection based on data from the National Telecommunications Commission.
DOST- PCIEERD intends to develop a program that demonstrates and executes a community long term evolution (LTE) network and digital TV for distance learning in remote regions with poor Internet connectivity.
Through the Science and Technology for a Resilient Community Against the Pandemic Block Grant, the council will allot up to P60 million to support research initiatives that is aimed at helping Filipinos to cope and manage to the new normal.
Philippine Space Agency Director General Dr. Joel Joseph S. Marciano Jr. discussed the development and proliferation of digital datacasting through terrestrial and space segments.
Engr. Calvin Hilario, DOST-Advanced Science and Technology Institute Senior Researcher OIC, discussed the development and deployment of community LTE network in the Philippines.
On the other hand, Dr. Ruby Cristobal, chief of DOST-Science Education Institute Science and Technology Manpower Education, Research, and Promotions Division, spoke about the agency’s Teaching and Learning Materials for Distance Learning.
For his part, DOST Science and Technology Information Institute Director Richard Burgos bared the agency’s educational interventions like the Science and Technology Academic and Research-Based Openly Operated KioskS and DOSTv.
Paringit said that DOST-PCIEERD will constantly find innovative and practical solutions to close the gap between the learner and their educational goals.
“As leader and preferred partner in enabling innovation, DOST-PCIEERD will remain committed to elevate the lives of many Filipinos and recover from this crisis using various S&T interventions and solutions,” he said.