July 2, 2020 — The Department of Education (DepEd) is working with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to assist the education sector in areas related to broadcast, connectivity and digital security for the continued delivery of education amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The collaboration of the two departments is in preparation for the opening of classes on August 24, 2020, which will be carried out through alternative learning delivery modalities with face-to-face classes still prohibited.

“As we examine the achievements and challenges of DepEd in the current pandemic, especially in schools located within community quarantine areas, DepEd continues to emphasize the unique synergy of our two departments closely working together in the delivery of education via the internet,” Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones said.

DepEd has requested DICT, through the leadership of Secretary Gregorio Honasan II, and its attached agency National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for support in encouraging telecommunication companies to continue  giving free access to DepEd Commons and other online platforms of the Department.

In addition, the partnership will also initiate the allocation of free internet bandwidth to public schools and encourage various businesses that provide telecommunications services, community cable providers, and internet service providers (ISP) to do the same.

Sec. Briones, however, noted that while DepEd is working to improve access of learners and schools to the internet, online learning is only one option from the menu of learning delivery modalities to be used in the upcoming school year.

“The Learning Continuity Plan of DepEd is not a one-size-fits-all policy. The modality to be used will be responsive in the context and available resources of the schools and the learners,” Briones emphasized.

The Department is also tapping DICT for assistance in providing physical security infrastructure or activity protocols to safeguard learners, teachers and staff from any unwanted security breaches and exposure to harmful online content.

“With the advent of an immense exposure of our learners in the online community, we are seeking DICT’s assistance to avoid or totally limit access to sites relating to pornography, sex, violence, cybercrimes and other inappropriate material for our children,” Briones said.

In the long term, DepEd is also eyeing to tap DICT for technical support for the Department’s Last Mile Schools Program through the augmentation of satellite capacity and the establishment of a fiber network connected to the far-flung schools.