Building the needed internet infrastructure is crucial for education in the new normal to succeed.
DepEd is missing this point.
The sorry state of our internet connection is the number one hindrance in ensuring access and equity in education today. Gadgets and laptops, ICT tools, and webinars will only work favorably with stable wifi access. Even the much flaunted DepEd Commons is useless without a reliable internet connection.
To date, Philippine’s internet speed is at 15.1 Mbps while the global average is at 26.12 Mbps. We ranked 103rd out of 139 countries. Sixty-one percent (61%) of the 23 million households in the country have no internet access. Our current internet users already account for 43.5% of the total population. Add to this the bulk of the 27 million students of basic education and the almost one million teachers who will be forced to use the internet to access learning and resources. This is a very big volume of users. It is simply impossible for the current state of internet connection to accommodate. Imagine the internet traffic we will all be experiencing and its adverse effect on online learning and other internet-dependent facets of life and work.
Blended learning, with its so many missing details, just highlights the gap in education access. If you are poor, learn through radio programs and printed modules. If you have the means, enjoy easy access through online and digital tools. To date, DepEd Commons boasts of 7million subscribers. That is a mere 25.9% of the 27 million students of basic public education. Even if the disadvantaged learners are able to access online lessons they will just be left on their own. Their parents are at work during the day and they cannot afford to pay for tutors.
The goal of education and the government should be to electrify the countryside and build the needed internet infrastructure. They should target providing free wifi to barangays so all learner households could have online access. Targeting the schools could come later since the face-to-face mode is not encouraged. From here, it could come up with specific targets and timeframes until every barangay is electrified and has a strong internet connection.
All efforts and formula for education in the new normal will come to naught if the government does not decisively address this glaring need.###
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