Cotabato City—Schools and local government units of 1,000 barangays in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will benefit first from the government’s Tech-for-Aid Centers program.
The BARMM’s Ministry of the Interior and Local Government entered into a working agreement on Wednesday with the Department of Information, Communication and Technology, and the United Nations Development Programme or the establishment of Tech-for-Aid Centers for BARMM LGUs and school sites.
Minister Naguib Sinarimbo of the MILG-BARMM said they were looking at digitalizing 1,000 barangay LGUs, initially in the provinces of Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur.
Fahad Zahid Sheikh, chief strategist of the Access to Information (A2I) in Bangladesh, said he believed that better access to information improves the Human Development Index of the benefitting communities.
Sheikh’s team met BARMM LGU representatives on Wednesday for a consultation on adopting the A2I Bangladesh concept, as they also serve as the UNDP consultant group for a similar information technology project in Bangsamoro areas.
The project includes free public Wi-Fi access, with the Tech-for-Aid Centers serving as the “engines” of developing e-governance for LGUs as well as e-learning for provincial, municipal and barangay schools and public libraries.
Manan Butongkay, DICT provincial officer for clustered Regions 11 and 12 said 38 Tech-for-Aid Centers were being developed in Lanao del Sur and 20 in Maguindanao.
DICT officials said the national government’s priority institutional beneficiaries of the project are: 1) LGUs to help fight corruption; 2) schools to help improve learning tools for students in rural areas, and 3) the security sector to enhance communications facilities and internet access for military and police camps, so as to strengthen the government’s campaign against terrorism, the proliferation of dangerous drugs, and human trafficking.
Engineer Alla-Von Balabagan of the DICT Region 12 said Tech-for-Aid Centers are being established in Upi town in Maguindanao, and in some selected barangays of that municipality.
Sinarimbo said the digitalization project is geared towards developing good governance even in the remote villages of the region.
It will also be an effective learning support tool to level the playing field for barangays and city-based students in terms of access to e-learning opportunities, he added.