Press Release
March 4, 2021

Gatchalian on long-term education recovery: close the nationwide digital divide

Though the Philippines jumped from number 111 to the 86th spot in Ookla's Speedtest Global Index, Senator Win Gatchalian emphasized the need for sustained efforts to bridge the nationwide digital divide to cover all barangays and reach every learner.

Since most barangays have a public school, Gatchalian has been proposing the construction of cell sites in these schools to ensure nationwide internet coverage.

In a Senate panel hearing last November, the Department of Education (DepEd) reported that out of the 22 million public school learners, only 3.6 million learners have access to the internet and only 1.9 million have their own laptops.

Project BASS-Bandwidth and Signal Statistics co-founder Wilson Chua, on the other hand, shared in the Medium Post that there are 36,607 out of 42,055 barangays or 87 percent that don't have cell sites.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture reiterated that the country has an opportunity to bridge the digital divide, citing the the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act (Republic Act 11494) or Bayanihan 2's three-year suspension of certain requirements for cell tower construction, except for the building permit.

Gatchalian is also mulling a bill that would provide a free laptop and internet allowance to every learner in the country.

According to the Center for Educational Measurement, around 60 percent of learners who participated in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) did not have access to computers and the internet. The group added that among the proportion of learners without computers and internet connection at home is much higher in lower proficiency groups.

"Access to the internet and laptops now is as basic as having access to water or electricity. In the same way as no household can survive without electricity or water, no learner can survive now without access to the internet and gadgets," said Gatchalian.

"The bill we are formulating is embracing the principle of shared responsibility. All of us will have to put in a share to bring the internet to the home of every learner. While this will be costly, the future returns will also be big because if our learners improve their outcomes, the whole country will benefit from it," he concluded.

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Internet sa bawat barangay, paaralan isinusulong ni Gatchalian

Bagama't umakyat ang ranggo ng Pilipinas mula 111 patungong 86 sa Speedtest Global Index ng Ookla, binigyang-diin ni Senador Win Gatchalian na dapat maabot ng internet ang bawat barangay at mag-aaral upang mawakasan ang "digital divide" sa bansa.

Dahil karamihan ng mga barangay ay may pampublikong paaralan, iminumungkahi ni Gatchalian ang pagpapatayo ng cell site sa mga paaralang ito upang matiyak na konektado sa internet ang bawat barangay.

Sa isang pandinig sa Senado noong Nobyembre, iniulat ng Department of Education (DepEd) na sa mahigit dalawampu't dalawang (22) milyong mag-aaral sa mga pampublikong paaralan, halos apat (3.6) na milyon lamang ang konektado sa internet at halos dalawang (1.9) milyon ang may sarili nilang laptop.

Ayon naman kay Project BASS-Bandwidth and Signal Statistics co-founder Wilson Chua, walumpu't pitong (87) porsyento o mahigit tatlumpung anim na libo (36,607) sa mahigit apatnapung libong (42,055) barangay ang walang sariling cell sites.

Pahayag ng Chairman ng Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, may oportunidad ang bansa na mabigyan ng internet ang bawat Pilipino. Ito ay dahil sa ilalim ng Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Republic Act 11494) o Bayanihan 2, suspendido sa loob ng tatlong taon ang ilang mga requirements sa pagpapatayo ng cell towers, maliban sa building permit.

Balak ding maghain ni Gatchalian ng panukalang batas upang bigyan ng internet allowance at libreng laptop ang bawat mag-aaral.

Ayon sa Center for Educational Measurement, halos animnapung (60) porsyento ng mga mag-aaral na lumahok sa 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) ang walang access sa mga computer at internet. Dagdag ng grupo, mas mataas na porsyento ng mga mag-aaral na nakakuha ng mababang marka sa PISA ang walang computer o internet sa kanilang mga tahanan.

"Ang pagkakaroon ng internet at laptops sa mga panahong ito ay maitutulad na natin sa pagkakaroon ng sapat na tubig at kuryente. Kung kinakailangan ng bawat tahanan ang tubig at kuryente, kailangan na ring ng bawat mag-aaral ang internet at mga gadgets," ani Gatchalian.

"Sa ihahain naming panukalang batas, isinusulong natin ang konsepto ng shared responsibility. Lahat tayo ay magkakaroon ng ambag upang maipaabot natin ang internet sa tahanan ng bawat mag-aaral. Malaking halaga ang kailangan natin para rito, ngunit malaki rin ang magiging benepisyo nito dahil kung mai-angat natin ang husay ng ating mga mag-aaral, buong bansa ang makikinabang rito," pahayag ng senador.

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