DepEd needs P600M for Internet in public schools

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE Department of Education (DepEd) will need P600 million every year to connect all public high schools to the internet, Education Secretary Jesli Lapus said yesterday.

Lapus, however, stressed that the DepEd is taking up the challenge to sustain private efforts which have brought Internet connections to more than 2,000 public high schools so far. He also appealed to telecommunication companies to offer subsidized rates for internet connections in schools.

“Affordable fees men fewer barriers (to wiring up schools),” Lapus said in addressing participants during the program of the private umbrella foundation Gearing Up Internet Literacy and Access for Students (GILAS).

GILAS, spearheaded by Ayala Foundation, has connected to the internet 2,020 public high schools in 31 cities, two provinces and two towns since it was launched in 2005.

Schools which already have computer laboratories are given free one-year internet connection while those without facilities are provided 10 computers and one-year internet connection under the program.

The challenge, however, is what happens after the first year.

Lapus said that some schools which got free internet connection from GILAS had dropped out of the program after the one-year free connection lapsed.

But yesterday, Lapus promised that “the Department of Education will take on this challenge of sustainability.”

He said he had instructed the department budget chief to “make provisions to cover the internet subscription fees and electricity charges” in the proposed budget for the beneficiary schools to sustain the program.

Though the department has built computer laboratories in more than 5,000 public high schools, it has not wired up any school.

There are more than 6,400 public high schools in the country.

Lapus thanked the GILAS for its efforts. GILAS brings together businesses, including telecommunication networks to provide free connections as well as local government units which donate funds, not only to provide internet access to public high schools, but also to train teachers.