Senator Win Gatchalian is studying introducing legislation that will give every public school learner a laptop and access to the internet.
To emphasize the urgency of this planned measure, Gatchalian pointed to a finding by assessment instruments provider Center for Educational Measurement on the 2018 Program for International Student Assessment or PISA, which revealed that access to computers and internet at home affects student performance.
According to CEM, around 60 percent of the learners who participated in the PISA did not have access to computers and connectivity at home.
The proportion of learners without computers and internet is much higher in the lower proficiency groups compared to higher proficiency groups, CEM’s analysis points out.
The results of the PISA 2018 showed that out of 79 countries, the Philippines ranked lowest in Reading Comprehension and second lowest in Science and Mathematics.
Gatchalian said the COVID-19 pandemic also underscored the need to make distance learning part of the norm to avoid prolonged disruptions to education, especially in times of calamities, emergencies and crises.
“After this pandemic, laptops and access to the internet are basicrequirements to learning,” he said.
He says no child should be left behind simply because he or she cannot have access to gadgets and the internet. That’s a challenge for the government.
“Now the basic question is ‘who will pay for it?’ because affordability becomes an issue and that’s what we are trying to solve right now,” said the chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.
“I think there is no question that learners should have a laptop and access to the internet now, not ten or fifteen years from now,” he said.
“And we would like to formulate a law wherein we will give every child, every learner a laptop and access to the internet.”
Data from the Department of Education show that 87 percent of the more than 22 million public school learners are using self-learning modules. The department admits, however, that the use of SLMs is costly and results in the build-up of waste.
The department also reported that some 3.6 million learners had access to the internet while 1.9 million had laptops.
Gatchalian also pointed out that despite the availability of the department’s high-quality TV episodes online, its YouTube channel only had around 59,000 subscribers, which showed the need to reach millions more.