Education is an invaluable gift that can never be taken away. If we receive it with an open mind and heart, it remains with us no matter how many number of times we share it with other people.
For the country’s largest fully integrated telco PLDT and its mobile subsidiary Smart, education plays a pivotal role in improving lives. In line with the PLDT group’s core value of malasakit (compassion), PLDT and Smart ensure that their pandemic-resilient education programs reach as many people as possible, so there will be No Learner Left Behind.
“The PLDT group strongly advocates for education, empowering the education sector with crisis-resilient solutions, as it supports the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG#4 which upholds Quality Education,” said PLDT and Smart First Vice President and Head of Group Corporate Communications Cathy Yap-Yang.
Enhancing digital literacy with PLDT Infoteach
The Infoteach Outreach Program, PLDT’s flagship digital literacy initiative for its education advocacy, recently completed its nationwide run this year with virtual graduation ceremonies and an online academic quiz participated in by the Program’s leading graduates. The top three winners of the 2021 PLDT Infoteach-HomeFibr Broadband Quiz consisted of high school students Ma. Eugenie Yvette Gata from Casiguran National High School in Aurora; Key Calpito, Cabarroguis National School of Arts and Trades, Quirino province; and Jobelle Enverga, Jesus Dela Peña National High School, Marikina City.
Conducted in partnership with the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU), Infoteach enables high school students and teachers from public schools nationwide to gain new digital knowledge and related topics from subject matter experts while staying safely in their homes.
An ongoing PLDT education program for almost 20 years, Infoteach was implemented in webinar format in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Phase 6 of the Infoteach Webinar Series was rolled out this year with over 19,800 learners, mostly Grades 7-12, participating in the 10 online sessions which were recorded and are available for viewing in the UPOU Facebook page.
Providing access to digital literacy for IP communities
PLDT, in partnership with the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF), have initiated the Digital Project for Arakan Women, working with Barangays Ganatan, Salasang, and Tumanding in Arakan, North Cotabato. Women and girls from the three barangays underwent orientations on basic computer literacy and the use of office and Windows apps using the 12 refurbished desktop computers provided by PLDT. Later, follow-up sessions were held to assess the participants’ proficiency.
Through this PLDT-PEF project, another group of women-parent volunteers were empowered to act as educators to the grade school students in their respective barangays. This encouraged the students to pursue and continue their studies amid modular distance learning challenges caused by COVID-19.
A group of women and girls, consisting of 90 residents from the three barangays in Arakan were provided access to digital literacy which enabled them to explore the digital world and enhanced their skills on digital technology.
Learning anywhere with School-In-A-Bag
Part of Smart’s flagship advocacy is the School-in-a-Bag (SIAB) which ensures that children in hard-to-reach areas get the opportunity to learn. A portable digital classroom, SIAB contains a laptop for the teacher, Smart Bro LTE pocket WiFi to download additional learning materials, and tablets preloaded with multimedia content and apps based on the mother tongue developed by Smart and its partners.
By the second half of 2021, Smart and its partners have deployed 508 SIABs across the country, reaching more than 4,000 teachers and over 93,000 students.
A slimmer iteration of SIAB are the Learn Smart Kits which are also donated by Smart to schools and organizations that conduct learning sessions in underserved areas. A Learn Smart Kit consists of a mini-bag with a Smart LTE pocket WiFi device and a 32GB USB preloaded with educational materials and videos for students and teachers.
Rebuilding the country through digital solutions
The Smart Prepaid Innovation Generation (InnoGen), a grant program for the youth, has welcomed, in virtual ceremonies, over 355 college students, from 29 universities and colleges nationwide, who will be joining the second season of the program.
InnoGen Season 2 poses the challenge “How can youth help the Philippines recover from the pandemic?” Presenting innovative solutions to the challenge using wireless or digital technology, the participating teams will get the chance to learn from experts and advocates, through a series of exclusive online lectures, helping them expand their knowledge and skills to enhance their projects.
Training digital artists, animators, content creators
Sprint, Smart’s newest training program, was launched to encourage partner-schools to create their own content and application by providing their students with the necessary skills and knowledge, guided by experts.
Some 119 students from 10 colleges and universities nationwide attended the Sprint five-day online training-workshop recently conducted by Smart. Topics discussed included storyboard design, character design, animation, sound, and application development. At the end of the course, the participants presented their outputs which were rated by judges. The top three outputs bagged special prizes from Smart.
Supporting independent learning method
Smart, PLDT, and the PLDT-Smart Foundation have continued their support for the Central Visayan Institute and Foundation-Dynamic Learning Program (CVIF-DLP), a proven teaching method that works whether the school adopts printed modules, online learning, or radio and television to teach students. Designed to encourage students to become independent learners through the self-directed CVIF-DLP Learning Activity Sheets (CVIF-DLP LAS), CVIF-DLP improves learner outcomes even with little to no teacher and parent intervention.
The number of schools implementing the CVIF-DLP has increased from 73, in school year (SY) 2019-2020, to 1,090 by the end of SY 2020-2021. Supporting the shift to distance learning, to date, Smart has already trained 6,390 teachers and made available 1,874 modules that can be downloaded on the DepEd Commons in the second quarter of 2021.
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