The government under the new administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio is programmed to create the National Education Portal (NEP) to hasten the digital shift of the country’s education system.
The project, which will be developed by concerned government agencies in collaboration with private information technology experts, is an online platform accessible to students and teachers to simplify and secure e-learning for both public and private institutions.
The portal will also serve as a central hub to allow students and teachers to communicate securely and provide digital learning materials.
Marcos said the program would go hand in hand with the current administration’s Build, Build, Build program as he is also looking to integrate a digital infrastructure thrust.
He observed that because of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the country’s protracted lockdowns, Internet access, particularly for students and employees consigned to their homes, has become indispensable.
Marcos lamented the plight of teachers and learners who were ill-prepared to face the challenges posed by distance learning.
There were even reports of teachers and students alike figuring in accidents to find better mobile internet signals.
“I feel their hardship. It has not been easy, many of our students are still struggling. They don’t have computers, tablets or even cellphones. They also have difficulty accessing the internet—they even climb trees, roofs just to study well,” Marcos said.
Marcos is also planning to implement initiatives to bring the country’s educational system and government learning institutions at par with global standards.
“This is the right time for our government to lay out plans for what we called post-pandemic in education and even in other aspects,” he said.
Marcos said he would also seek the support and assistance of telecommunication companies and internet providers to ensure that the NEP becomes a success.
“We will contact the big telcos and other companies to discuss the digital infrastructure. We need to solve this kind of problem in education, we also make school equipment more digital or advanced,” he added.
Aside from NEP project, Marcos also wants a new program intended for out-of-school-youth (OSY) to give them a fighting chance to become productive and responsible citizens of their respective communities.
Department of Education records showed that there are currently more than four million out-of-school-youth in the country.
Marcos said his education agenda includes ‘strengthening the Free College Tuition Fee Act, and funding the stalled Commission on Higher Education Scholarship program.
He is also looking at the construction of specialized colleges and universities which will greatly help students and young people who want to study and go to college for free without having to leave their communities.
Marcos also plans to increase the number of programs that offer free online courses in different schools.
The objective is for the OSY to learn new skills that would help them land better jobs, which in the process would help them return to school and finish their schooling.
“Let’s strengthen the online courses program, the programs that they will receive not only certificates but also diplomas, for those who have completed online courses, depending on how many years they have completed,” he said.
Meanwhile, Vice President and incoming Education secretary Sara Duterte-Carpio said Marcos made a directive to review the implementation of the present K to 12 education program.
“That’s something that needs to be discussed. It is something that President Marcos and I have discussed,” she said.
Duterte said she will initially look on priority issues concerning the country’s present education system. These, she said, include the full implementation of face-to-face classes, and the review of the K-to-12 program.