MANILA, PHILIPPINES (12 April 2022) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) today turned over to the Philippines’ Department of Education (DepEd) the last batch of tablets, solar-powered transistor radios, and other information technology (IT) equipment as part of its $2.4 million in grant support for distance learning among secondary school students from poor and disadvantaged families in remote areas during and beyond the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

At a ceremony in Pasig City, DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan received from ADB Principal Country Specialist for the Philippines Alain Morel a portion of the 46,680 solar-powered transistor radios, 3,500 android tablets, and 21 Wi-Fi local area network (LAN) sets with solar-powered batteries worth $1 million for students and teachers in selected remote schools. Most of the equipment have been delivered to schools in Abra, Bohol, Kalinga, Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte, and Zamboanga Sibugay provinces, among others, earlier this year.

School Division Office superintendents, school heads, teachers, students, and parents from target schools across the country joined the event via video conference. Representatives from the Embassy of Japan and partner organizations such as Philippine Business for Social Progress, Edukasyon, and NIRAS Consulting joined the face-to-face ceremony.

“We in DepEd greatly appreciate this assistance in providing Filipino students in last mile schools, those currently with limited access to electricity, with safe, secure, and consistent access to facilities and resources for distance learning. This will help us in achieving our goals under a learning continuity plan we developed shortly after the pandemic started. The project is even more important because it has a study component on the effectiveness of technology-assisted learning delivery in remote schools,” Mr. Malaluan said.

The support is financed by technical assistance grants from ADB and the Japan Fund for Prosperous and Resilient Asia and the Pacific under the EdTech Solutions for Last Mile Schools in COVID-19 program.

“Young Filipinos need to continue their education despite the challenges brought about by the pandemic. Those in last mile schools with no access to basic infrastructure and learning resources even before COVID-19 are doubly disadvantaged,” Mr. Morel said. “Providing them with the tools needed for distance learning will help prevent students from dropping out of school and give them a chance for a better future.”

Under DepEd’s Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan developed in May 2020, the government identified over 3,500 schools which lack access to reliable electricity, among other basic infrastructure. DepEd developed radio-based instructions to help students in these areas with their self-learning modules, part of the education technology solutions it piloted after the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Apart from providing hardware infrastructure, ADB is assisting DepEd to create learning content in digital format for secondary school students, drawing from the most essential learning competencies of the grades 7–12 curriculums. Teachers will also receive training on distance education under the program.

The support builds on ADB’s ongoing assistance to DepEd under the Secondary Education Support Program and is aligned with ADB’s 2018–2023 country partnership strategy for the Philippines of investing in Filipinos.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

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