Use pork to buy more books, say IT experts | Inquirer News

Use pork to buy more books, say IT experts

By: - Reporter / @JeromeAningINQ
/ 03:25 AM August 14, 2013

“Senator Angara should just add his pork to the budget of the Department of Education (DepEd) so the agency can continue supporting the Gilas project,” says Rick Bahague, CPU national coordinator.

MANILA, Philippines—Instead of buying computers, Congress should focus funding on the purchase of textbooks and hiring more teachers for public schools, a group of information technology (IT) experts said Tuesday.

The Computer Professionals’ Union (CPU) was reacting to a bill filed by Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, which seeks to provide every public elementary and high school with a computer laboratory equipped with at least 10 computers.


“Senator Angara should just add his pork to the budget of the Department of Education (DepEd) so the agency can continue supporting the Gilas project,” Rick Bahague, CPU national coordinator, said in a statement.


Bahague was referring to the Gearing Up Internet Literacy and Access for Students project, a private-sector led Internet literacy program that was turned over to the DepEd in November 2012. He recalled that the department allocated P1.8 billion to the Gilas project last year and at the same time reported that 97 percent of all public high schools already have computers while 68 percent have Internet access under the program.

“[So] there is no need to pass a new law just to put computers in classrooms unless DepEd’s pronouncement is not true,” Bahague said.

Angara, however, said only half of the 4,336 high schools nationwide had computer laboratories, with most of these needing repairs or upgrading.

Connect to Internet

The senator’s measure proposes that two of the 10 computers be connected to the Internet “to further assist the students with their research.”

The CPU said that similar efforts to address the apparent lack of innovation in teaching and education by the introduction of various technologies had been attempted in other countries but had not been successful.


The group recalled the efforts in the past decade of Massachusetts Institute of Technology-Media Lab founding chair Nicholas Negroponte’s One Laptop Per Child Project (OLPC) for developing countries.

However, a 2012 study of the Inter-American Development Bank on the implementation of the OLPC in Peru, concluded that students who benefited from the project showed “no measurable improvement in tests scores.”

One-to-one laptop programs enforced in Maine, Michigan and Texas in the United States as well as in New South Wales, Australia, also showed similar or mixed results, according to the technology news website Mashable.

Textbooks, PCs or teachers?

“What would give more long-term positive results—giving 10 computers or providing thousands of textbooks and hiring more teachers? Of course, the most appropriate is to provide all necessary tools for learning to students and it will start with an adequate budget in education and proper prioritization on its spending,” Bahague said.

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The CPU is a network of computer professionals, IT practitioners and free and open source advocates. It is a member of several watchdogs that monitor automated elections in the country.

TAGS: Congress, Education, Internet, Pork barrel

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