September 21, 2022

Creation of a sought-after national online library

A student participates in their online classes inside their home in Parañaque City on September 24, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The chairman of the Senate Basic Education Committee said Sunday he wants an online library to be created that will give elementary and middle school students free access to digitized copies of learning materials.

In a statement, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said he had introduced Senate Bill 477 or the Philippines Online Library Act, under which the Department of Education (DepEd) would be mandated to create “scanned copies of all textbooks and reference books it deems necessary. for the public education of our primary and secondary learners.

“These will be compiled into the proposed Philippines Online Library, which will be jointly managed by DepEd and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT),” he said.

The DepEd and the National Library of the Philippines will also have joint custody of the digitized materials, Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian said digital educational tools can ensure continuity of learning in times of disruption.

“As we return to face-to-face classes, our public libraries, one of the country’s pathways to educational resources, must remain pandemic-proof – ubiquitous and accessible – regardless of geographic location and the type of device used by learners,” he said.

Gatchalian said the DepEd must provide “computers, laptops and other appropriate devices to all public primary and secondary schools in the country” to guarantee access to materials, while the DICT must guarantee “internet access free, reliable and secure” in schools.

In 2021, DepEd and DICT signed an agreement to roll out the Public Education Network project, which aims to provide connectivity to all of the agency’s offices and public schools, especially those in remote areas.

At the height of the pandemic, students learned from home through distance learning methods, such as online modules and classes, after the government banned in-person classes.

But many students, teachers and parents have complained about difficulties with distance learning, citing uneven access to technology and unreliable internet connectivity.

The Education Department has ordered all schools to resume in-person classes at full capacity by November 2.