April 19, 2021 – Drastic improvement in the delivery of education can be expected in the years to come as the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) sealed a monumental partnership to realize the establishment of the Public Education Network (PEN).

Led by Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones and Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II, DICT and DepEd on Friday signed two important Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to strengthen the delivery of education through broadcast, connectivity, and digital security via the PEN program.

The two national agencies had been coordinating the development of the PEN as early as April 2020. The initiative aims to fast-track the digital connectivity of all public schools and DepEd offices nationwide and allow learners to have wider access to DepEd TV, DepEd Commons, and other learning platforms. Aside from this, the PEN will also connect DepEd Offices to governance platforms such as the DepEd Enterprise Resource Planning System (DERPS), the Learner Information System (LIS), the DepEd Mobile App, and other partner platforms.

“This partnership is designed not only to deal with COVID but really to deal, not only with the present, but also with the future. We feel braver. We feel more courageous since we are holding hands with the DICT and other institutions who could help us out. With this partnership, we offer more hope to education with the help of our partners,” Secretary Briones said.

The monumental collaboration is aligned with the directive of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during his 2020 State of the Nation Address (SONA). It is also a direct response of DepEd and DICT to address the adverse effects and complications brought by the pandemic in basic education and also for future possible incidences of calamities, disasters, and conflict.

“When the government decided to open classes amid the public health emergency, we recognized the need for education to continue, despite the limitations imposed by the ongoing health crisis. We believe it is imperative to look beyond these immediate concerns to what may be possible for education on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is in this spirit that your DICT has worked closely with the education sector to come up with solutions that enable education to continue while also keeping our students and teachers safe and healthy,” DICT Secretary Honasan II said.

“To do this, we are working with DepEd to adopt a framework that shall enable us to promote digital education by harnessing the benefits of various ICT services,” Secretary Honasan added.

The partnership will lay down the framework of cooperation and collaboration between DepEd and DICT, including advocacy for the presence of ICT service providers in public school premises, provision of online resources, materials, and systems for educational use, and coordination with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), among others.

As part of its medium to long-term commitment, DICT will also assist in augmenting the future satellite capacity of DepEd for Last Mile Schools and in providing data transport service using a fiber-optic network under the GovNet and Microwave towers.

Additionally, DepEd and DICT will also work together to determine suitable real estate properties owned or under the administration of DepEd for use as sites or locations for the Shared Passive Telecommunications Tower Infrastructure (SPTTI) that will let government agencies share resources and technologies for the benefit of Filipinos.

Guided by the leadership of Secretary Briones, the PEN program is part of the Digital Rise Program under the Public Schools of the Future (PSOF) Framework. It is spearheaded by the Information and Communications Technology Service-Education Technology Unit (ICTS-EdTech) headed by Director Abram Y.C. Abanil, under the Administration Strand led by Undersecretary Alain Del Pascua and Assistant Secretary Salvador Malana III.

“With the building of the DepEd PEN, the Digital Rise program is strengthened and propelled forward. And this begins today, as we officially join hands with the DICT in making access and connectivity realities for all schools, all teaching and non-teaching personnel, and all learners wherever they may be,” Usec. Pascua said.