Deped to boost ICT in schools starting 2018

Written by Philippine News Agency

The opening of classes for SY 2016-2017 in Lumbang East National High School.The opening of classes for SY 2016-2017 in Lumbang East National High School.

To enhance the knowledge, skills of teachers and students, the Department of Education (DepEd) vowed to further improve the information and communications technology (ICT) in schools next year.

"We will ensure all schools have computers," incoming DepEd ICT director Abram Abanil told the Philippine News Agency in an interview.

He said DepEd will look into the ratio of computers to students to ensure there is enough equipment in schools.

"Aside from having a computer laboratory, we also need to look at how many laboratories will be needed if there is a large number of enrollees," Abanil added.

More ICT devices will be procured next year, as the DepEd targets to provide devices in classrooms and not just in laboratories.

"We're planning to procure at least one presentation device, and maybe one tablet per classroom, so the teachers could use these daily,"
Abanil told PNA.

Right now, teachers would need to ask for a schedule in the computer laboratory before they could use ICT device in teaching.

DepEd will also push for internet in all schools with the support from the Department of Communications and Information Technology (DICT).

Abanil explained that the DICT lays out the internet connection infrastructure, and at present, the country relies only on two providers -- Globe and Smart.

"The coverage and internet speed of these two are very limited, especially in rural areas. Even if we provide schools with budget for the internet, if there is no provider, it would be useless," he said.

The DICT would help DepEd have a mechanism to distribute learning resources to the teachers, Abanil added.

DepEd is also looking at procuring a learning management software, which the teachers could use to deliver modules and other learning materials, according to Abanil.

Massive ICT training for teachers
Abanil is not sure though if DepEd could provide a massive ICT training for teachers by next year, but noted that the agency certainly plans to conduct this.

One of the problems that he sees is the utilization of computers, since many teachers, especially the elders, "are not yet exposed to these technologies".

"Before, computer technology is being introduced to secondary schools, buy recently, DepEd has been introducing ICT to as early as Grade 4 students," Abanil added.

Hence, DepEd plans to conduct massive training to improve the ICT skills of elementary teachers.

He said he is not sure if this could be done in 2018 since DepEd still needs to define the competencies of teachers.

"We have to determine first the ICT skills that the teachers need. From there, we would determine the training and types of programs for them," Abanil added.

The incoming ICT director added that the agency is working on an "HR system" to get the profiles of teachers, as this will also be used for the training program.

Meanwhile, Abanil said the major challenges in boosting the ICT in schools are the logistics and the size of DepEd.

"DepEd has 47,000 schools, and many of these are in remote areas, so the problem would be on the logistics to deliver the computers. There are almost 700,000 teachers we need to build up the skills, and these teachers need to teach about 21 million students," he said m, adding that this will take a huge effort.

Abanil said it's very important for students to learn ICT. He cited that many of the high-paying jobs these days are ICT-related.

"There is also an upcoming trend in AI (artificial intelligence). Who knows? Jobs requiring manual labor might be replaced by machines (in the future). We need to prepare students so they could adjust with the ongoing developments (in technology)," he said. (Ma. Cristina Arayata/PNA)