January 5, 2021 – Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis-Briones cited the concerted effort of local government units (LGUs) and external partners in supporting the Department of Education (DepEd) to provide for digital learning assistance this school year.

To date, over 475 partner LGUs, as well as a number of NGOs, and external partners partnered with School Division Offices (SDOs) to provide learning materials to learners, parents, and guardians, and teachers and personnel.

“Ibibigay namin [ang mga necessity] upang matugunan ang pangangailagan sa digital equipment. Sa buong bansa, kadalasan ang mga local government units ay namimigay talaga sila ng cellphones, and smartphones pa nga ‘yong iba,” Sec. Briones said on Monday during an interview in Radyo Pilipinas.

“Sa Manila, Php 1.2-billion worth of cellphones, and digital equipment pati load ang pinamigay sa ating kabataan,” she added. Pasig likewise spent Php 1.2-billion for cellphones for learners and teachers. Quezon City spent Php 2.9-billion for gadgets for its learners. Valenzuela City is currently distributing 23,500 units of 7-inch smartphones.

Briones also shared that the Department and partners have been distributing distance learning equipment for teachers since last year to ensure that distance learning would be possible amid the health and safety crisis.

Based on the report of the Regional offices, around 1,202 donation activities of LGUs or external partners have been conducted, consisting of printing supplies, electronic gadgets, and items concerning the implementation of safety and health protocols in the region.

“Ang masasabi namin ay sa programa namin [sa DepEd], lahat ginagawa namin para mabigyan ng mga digital equipment ang mga bata at ang mga local governments, talagang nangunguna rito,” Briones said.

Initiatives of LGUs included identifying the suitable modality of learning for every location, providing machines for the printing of modules, engaging partnerships with internet providers for a better connection, and collaborating with local media for radio and television-based instruction.

In addition, LGUs, in partnership with field offices, provided training for the teachers and parents for them to adapt to the new normal of education. These initiatives were conducted while observing the required health protocols for COVID-19.

On the other hand, as of October 30 last year, around 13 billion worth of cash and in-kind donations were contributed by external partners in 16 regions.

This assistance from LGUs and external partners boosted regional and division offices’ efforts for the implementation of BE-LCP, including printing and distribution of self-learning modules, teachers’ training and parents’ orientation, TV and radio modality, and health and safety protocols.

Meanwhile, the Education chief said that the Department is conducting a separate investigation and currently consolidating reports from field offices as initial reports state that students resorted in selling their private videos and photos to have sufficient funding for online learning.

In a statement released, DepEd reiterated its commitment to cooperate with the Inter-Agency Council Against Child Pornography (IACACP) in preventing and addressing pornography among learners. The Department also emphasized that gadgets or internet connections are not required to participate in the distance learning set-up.

“These rising cases of child exploitation and abuse call for better collaboration and cooperation among national agencies and local communities, especially in these difficult times. We must not let our children be exposed to such corrupt acts under any circumstances,” the statement reads.

“DepEd is one with the rest of the government and private organizations in this mission to curb the exploitation of children. With this whole-of-society approach, and with the help of parents and guardians, as well as the learners themselves, we are stronger together in putting an end to these abuses,” the statement concludes.