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DepEd laments dearth of devices

/ 05:42 AM August 07, 2020

With the lack of computers and mobile devices to promote learning, public school teachers and students may have to make do with only over half a million available gadgets previously distributed by the Department of Education (DepEd) to schools nationwide.

According to recent data, the DepEd has only 532,637 information technology (IT) devices distributed across 44,155 public schools nationwide that could be loaned to some of the 822,002 teachers and some of the 19.28 million public elementary and high school students.

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The equipment provided under the DepEd’s computerization program has been distributed to 93 percent of all schools in the country in the last five years, according to DepEd. These include 124,939 stand-alone desktop computers, 99,548 laptops and 308,150 tablet PCs.

The other 509,632 IT devices could not be borrowed from schools as these are thin-clients or computers that run from resources stored on a central server, the DepEd said.

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DepEd Undersecretary Alain Pascua said teachers from public schools might borrow laptops, tablets, and computers from the schools under DepEd Memo No. 0420-0029 released last April while “select learners” may be lent gadgets subject to the permission of the school principal under DepEd Memo No. 00720-0063.

Another challenge

The DepEd, in the memo, also emphasized that these borrowing and learning measures, given the limited inventory, “is only a temporary solution for teachers without devices.”

The students allowed to borrow gadgets were those identified through the Learner Enrollment and Survey Form. Priority are those with disabilities, Pascua said.

In Metro Manila, only 66,049 laptops, desktops, and tablets are available for lending by some teachers, and around 648,405 public school students in the National Capital Region (NCR) lack gadgets.

The DepEd-NCR’s data provided by Regional Director Malcolm Garma on Thursday showed that San Juan City public schools, both elementary and high school, have only 398 available desktops, laptops and tablets owned by schools that are available for lending, followed by Navotas with 664; Las Piñas, 707; Muntinlupa, 1,215; Pasay City, 1,602; Malabon, 2,124; Parañaque City, 2,152; Marikina City, 2,196; Mandaluyong, 2,789; Taguig, 3,463; Caloocan City, 3,854; Pasig City, 4,500; Valenzuela City, 5,135; Quezon City, 8,485; Manila, 11,537; and Makati, 15,228.

Pascua said the number of gadgets was enough as these are only supplementary. “The availability of items to be borrowed would be enough,” he added.

“The beauty of our approach is that we have options available for everyone. The school year is not only for those with laptops or cell phones,” Pascua said.

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He said the other modes of instruction were television, radio, self-learning modules, and “blended learning.”

Earlier, the DepEd said there was “no urgent need” to buy laptops or computers for teachers and students as “there are several other options” to use for the coming school opening this Aug. 24.

But Alliance of Concerned Teachers secretary general Raymond Basilio believes these gadgets, said to be available on paper, were still not enough.

Some last-mile schools, or those situated in far-flung areas, in fact, only have a laptop, he said.

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