Making the Internet Accessible to Students of MindanaoCategory: Personal
The progress of the island of Mindanao has been historically lethargic. While the rest of the Philippines are enjoying the benefits of industrialization, Mindanaoans are still struggling to escape the clutches of poverty.
Mindanao is actually abundant in natural and human resources but its growth has been hampered by many factors which include armed conflict, cultural and religious differences and corruption in the government.
The young generation is still Mindanao’s hope to finally progress and come into its own. Their young and still uncorrupt minds can be bound for nurturing and cultivation to become worthy leaders. One of the best ways to make that possible is through education.
I have been working for GEM’s Computer Literacy and Internet Connection (CLIC) component since 2004. It is a USAID-funded program which supports the efforts of the government to make high school students in the ARMM and conflict-affected areas of Mindanao become as competitive as their counterparts in other parts of the country. Technology especially ICT literacy is a great equalizer so the program aims to introduce the students to computers and give them access to unlimited information though the internet which is usually not found in the outdated books available to them.
Their teachers are also trained (see the trainings I conducted) on the new computer and internet concepts as well as how to integrate them in classroom instruction. The program is made possible through partnership with the school PTCA (Parent Teachers Community Association)
When the program started in 2003, the only available option to connect the schools through the internet was through dial-up using a landline. We have only assisted less than 30 schools due to the limitations of the system as typically, it was only available in cities and large towns. A few months later, satellite-based system was available albeit expensive and we started helping schools located in the barrios. As the years go by and technology advances, we have managed to extend our program to more remote areas like the islands of Jolo and Tawi-Tawi, the mountains of Arakan and Alamada in Cotabato, and the coastal areas of Lebak and Kalamansig in Sultan Kudarat and also in areas once ravaged by war like in Camp Abubacar, a former MNLF stronghold. We utilized all available options for internet connection like DSL, microwave radio, VSAT and even the new WiMax.
Through GEM-CLIC’s efforts, more than 800 public and private high schools all over Mindanao has been connected to the internet benefiting more than 600,000 students.
That figure proudly says that we have effectively made the internet accessible to many students in Mindanao.
By doing so, we have managed to help them see what is outside the world of war and poverty that they live in. That there’s a better place outside of conflict and sufferings they are surrounded with. Hopefully, that is enough to encourage them to strive making Mindanao live up to its “Land of Promise” billing.
Here are videos of US Ambassador Kristie Kenney’s visits to our recipients schools:
at Nicolas Barreras National High School in Polomolok, South Cotabato
at Islamic Institute of the Philippines in Zamboanga City
If you want to receive my latest posts, please subscribe to my full feed RSS or have them delivered through email. Just enter your email address below and hit the Subscribe button.