07 August 2007

Contrasting views on DepEd's Cyber Education Project

THE "no-go" declaration by President Arroyo's legal adviser notwithstanding, the controversy over the $329-million National Broadband Network (NBN) project proposed by the DOTC has clearly overshadowed its more expensive twin, the DepEd's $460-million Cyber Education Project (Cyber Ed).

All along, I thought these two projects will use the same national telecommunications backbone, thereby improving its utilization indicators and other related evaluation benchmarks that would strengthen the government's hand.

It must be said though that the Fabella and De Dios paper does raise far more significant policy questions, especially on the wisdom of government re-involving itself in a liberalized sector where there are already two underutilized privately owned facilities.

The official line
I was therefore horrified to find out that Cyber Ed is an entirely different animal. The DepEd website describes it thus:

The Cyber Ed Project uses satellite technology to provide an efficient and cost-effective solution to the need to deliver educational services to public elementary and secondary schools throughout the country. It links these schools to a nationwide network that provides 12 video channels, wireless wide area networking, local area networking and wireless Internet connectivity.

Under this project, a total of 37,794 schools or 90% of all public schools nationwide will be connected in the next three years. These schools will receive live broadcasts featuring lectures and presentations from master teachers as well as coursewares on demand and other valuable resource materials.
In theory, Secretary Lapus appears to have taken the bull by the horn. "(Increasing the Philippine education system's capacity) can only be done with the use of technology," Lapus said. "And Cyber Ed is the technology that will enable us to deliver high quality education to all learners throughout the country. It is, without a doubt, the best response to the challenges we face in the basic education sector."

ACT's putdown
But contrast this with the position taken by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), calling Cyber Ed simply broadcasting, not computer-based learning. It can be found in the latter part of the Inquirer story on Apostol's "no-go" declaration:
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) asked the government to sober up on its "Cyber Education" program, calling it a white elephant that has nothing to do with cutting-edge technology.

ACT chair Antonio Tinio said the money to fund the project could be better spent on building classrooms, subsidizing the education of children who cannot afford to go to school, hiring more teachers, and producing quality teachers.

"The project is very expensive with little or no proven benefits to the students. It is simply broadcasting a 20-minute lecture to selected schools via satellite. If that is the only thing the Department of Education (DepEd) wants to do, it might as well tape the lectures, place them in compact disks and distribute them to the schools for viewing," Tinio said.
The devil in details
With these contrasting information, what then is Cyber Ed all about? In trying to find some answers myself, I stumbled on this Powerpoint presentation by Jess Mateo, director of the DepEd Educational Development Projects Implementing Task Force (EDPITAF).

My own take on Cyber Ed in my next post.

3 comments:

Arbet said...

Hi, if ACT is correct, then DepEd is just going to replicate the system being implemented by a large education system.

Willy B. Prilles, Jr. said...

Hi Arbet: If that were the case, Knowledge Channel would be way much cheaper.

At $1,500 per school (covering one 29" TV and a cable connection), connecting the same 26,500+ public schools envisioned under CEP will require only about P1.8 billion. And we're not talking about savings arising from economies of scale yet.

But CEP is bigger than traditional cable-based EdTV programming. For it to succeed, there's the cultural aspect which I will discuss in my final post on the topic.

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