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Thousands of Philippine schools set to see the light

US$60 million govt program will see more than 7,000 schools receive electricity for the first time

Thousands of Philippine schools set to see the light

Children of the indigenous Mangyan tribe of Mindoro study in classrooms without windows or electricity. (Photo by Betty Romero)

September 5, 2017

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More than 7,000 Philippine public schools "still in the Dark Ages" will get electricity in 2018 with a special $60 million fund for the Education Department, a senator announced Sept. 4.

Senator Ralph Recto said one in six government elementary and high schools lacks connection to a commercial power grid. While some 1,500 of these schools use solar panels or generators, almost 6,000 schools lack access "to a single watt of electricity."

The senator said power connections would allow more than a million students in these schools to catch up with digital education being rolled out across most of the country.

He also said the Duterte government's proposed $172-million budget to computerize basic education classrooms would make public school students more competitive in higher education.

The ambitious program is now possible because of a drop in the price of solar panels, mostly sourced from China.

Education Department undersecretary Alain Del Pascua said the new computer packages, will include solar panels so that off-grid schools can use digital teaching aids.

"This is the government's initiative to promote tech-savviness in rural barangays [villages] and let them cope with the technological advancement of their counterparts in urban areas," Pascua said.

The Education Department said its plan to computerize public schools got a boost from the United States Agency for International Development, which handed over 370 computer tablets for students in the far north of the main island of Luzon.

Students in the southern city of Marawi also received 6,500 chairs from the aid agency, for use in makeshift tent schools. More than 30,000 students in the city, pulverized by more than three months of fighting between troops and IS-linked rebels, did not return to school in June.

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