Remote village school prepares for technology-based education

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A public elementary school in a remote village in Rodriguez town, Rizal province, received electricity for the first time through solar panels, an effort by private and public organizations to introduce technology-based education.

One Meralco Foundation, the social development arm of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), installed a 1-kilowatt photovoltaic system, or solar panels, in Casili Elementary School.

The school with 147 students, mostly Dumagat and children of farmers, is located inside the 28,000-hectare Marikina Watershed in Sitio Casili, Barangay (village) San Rafael.

Meralco program officer Eddielyn Addun said the lack of electricity in the school as well as in the community hampered the children’s education.

“It used to be really dark in the school. The teachers still taught with Manila paper and blackboards, and [they] could not use modern teaching aids [because] there was no electricity,” she said in a phone interview on Sunday.

Casili Grade 3 teacher Sarah Abude, in an e-mail statement, said the students had to move closer to the windows to make out the lessons on the board.

Casili is one of the remote communities in Rodriguez. Students travel for hours on rough roads to attend classes while others even have to cross rivers using rubber floaters to reach the school, Abude said.

“Despite their conditions, we see that the students are eager to go to school,” she said.

Aside from the solar panels, Meralco also gave a television and multimedia equipment to Casili to be used as learning aids in class.

Meralco’s school electrification program, which installs solar power system in remote and island villages, has been going on since 2011 and has benefited 22 schools with 5,330 students, said Addun.

A separate project by PLDT-Smart Foundation is the donation of computer tablets to the students in Casili now that electricity has become available, according to Smart community partnership head Darwin Flores.

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