Making the Internet Accessible to Students of Mindanao

Making the Internet Accessible to Students of Mindanao

Category: Personal


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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to computers and give them access to unlimited information though the internet which is usually not found in the outdated books available to them.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

ark

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18 Responses to “Making the Internet Accessible to Students of Mindanao”

  1. Popovz Says:

    Sa totoo lang with all the wealthy individuals and companies/organizations/countries, Internet connection can be free of charge. Human knowledge is as free as it can be. That was what Milo (Ryan Philippe in Antitrust said), but the depicted antagonist here is more likely our Bill Gates, he wants to stop free-sourcing. Even our Bill Gates said that nothing’s for free (a line he quoted in the movie Pirates of Silicon Valley) albeit we can see that the growth of Linux has come to a slow pace. The only free-sourcing software I can see now is Mozilla’s softwares mainly Firefox, which you are probably using. I have managed to create some apps for it but still can’t get it stable. :) but with others help, maybe they can improve it and make it stable and useful. I still believe in free-sourcing. With this, computer technology can be available to all. It all starts with the softwares kasi without the softwares and operating systems, di naman tatakbo mga computers eh. :)

    [Reply]

    ark Reply:

    Yes, firefox user ako ever since una siyang lumabas. I agree with you poy, knowledge should be free. Kaya lang, di natin maiiwasan na there will always be enterprising individuals who will cash-in on this.

    Kaya nga we in the program give the computers and internet for free sa mga schools para di naman sila madeprive sa kung ano ang dapat na bagong matutunan.

    [Reply]

  2. maynard Says:

    Kudos to your program for making this thing possible.Now students in Mindanao can also enjoy what other students are enjoying in Luzon and Visayas…

    [Reply]

    ianemv Reply:

    I think not all students in Luzon and Visayas have access to the Internet. It’s the same here in Mindanao, some public schools are not. Although we have Internet cafe’s.

    GEM 3 Program has expanded the accessibility of Internet in Mindanaon’s through CLIC project.

    [Reply]

    ark Reply:

    We do this so students all over the Philippines will have equal access to new technology.

    [Reply]

  3. ianemv Says:

    Indeed, GEM 3 Program of the USAID has given my fellow Mindanaons especially those in remote areas an opportunity to surf the Internet.

    I believe this program can also be done not just here in Mindanao but to the rest of the country. As this will boost the education level of students and teachers in grade school and high school.

    [Reply]

    ark Reply:

    I think a similar program is implemented in Luzon and Visayas through AFI-GILAS.

    [Reply]

  4. M&M Says:

    not too many people realize how difficult it is to visit these remote schools (apart from the horrors in logistics and security issues). its the faintest smile, the little act of appreciate that you get from both teachers and students that you realize its okay and that you are making a difference.

    so, kudos to you and the rest of the pioneers of this project!

    Cheers!

    [Reply]

    ark Reply:

    You are one of the pioneers maej so you have a part in all of this. You are right, we are risking our own security and comfort just to make a difference but in the end, it always feels satisfying knowing that we have somehow done our little share.

    [Reply]

  5. Iceah Says:

    Wow! With a job like yours I would definitely love to be a part of help children that way. c: Bravo to you and your group! Wag sana kayo mapagod tumulong at mageducate c: The Philippines need more like you guys c: 3 thumbs up for you pareng Ark c:

    [Reply]

    ark Reply:

    For sure we will not tire as long as we have the budget, hehe.. Thank you.

    [Reply]

  6. Absari_Casim Says:

    Definitely this project helped a lot to Mindanaoans. More and more students and youth are becoming computer literate. I can still remember my high school life where my classmates are afraid of even just making use of the pointing device. It’s hard to compete in our society nowadays since computer literacy already became part of being competitive.
    We must face also the fact that the funds intended for the upgrade of learning is being corrupted by officials. And GEM-CLIC had given the chance for our youth what they really need to progress. Thanks to the persons behidg this project!
    Alhamdullilah!

    [Reply]

    ark Reply:

    It’s sad to say that corruption is one of the reasons why proper education can not be given to some of our students. It’s really a good thing that USAID made this program.

    [Reply]

  7. zambo Says:

    The CLIC program is one of the best programs out there. It is definitely a project that can help schools to start up global learning and communication. The Internet is now more user friendly than ever before, thanks to faster internet speeds and bigger bandwidth. You can now surf the net without going to know what a console is.
    Now that the CLIC program is in place, the community must understand the true potential and benefits of being connected to the Internet. If they can benefit from it and they will long for it. If there is large number people in the community that longs for it, the government/private institutions will make it more accessible. But first, there must be a demand for Internet. Good thing we have students with curious minds.

    [Reply]

    ark Reply:

    Thank you spy. You have also helped this program become what it is today. I agree with you, the community should understand the benefits and should help their schools sustain their internet subscription.

    [Reply]

  8. bariles Says:

    I was there with my boss when the Ambassador first visited GenSan in 2006 to inaugurate the CLIC PROGRAM of Barangay Bawing Elementary School. It was one memorable time for me because of two things – firstly, because i met and saw a US Ambassador up close and admired at how hardworking she was; 2ndly, because I embarassed myself by tripping over infront of her while trying to take her picture wih my boss, the mayor. And you know what? She was the first person who helped me get up back on my feet again. What a gracious lady! And what a good metaphor for war-torn Mindanao.
    The rest of the morning went fine despite my bruised knees and scraped elbows. The smiles of gratitude of the school kids who were gifted with computers were enuf to take away the pain and the embarassment of that fall.

    [Reply]

    ark Reply:

    Thanks for sharing that moment sir avel. That was really embarrassing. Buti naman at bruised knee lang, di bruised ego, hehe..

    Yes, the ambassador is one really admirable woman. Kung pwede nga lang sana na di na siya umalis dito sa atin eh.

    [Reply]

  9. Norman Says:

    Hi!

    This is not a reply, but an inquiry on how to avail for the internet connection through GEMCLIC, it sounds impressive that many schools in Mindanao were recepients unfortunately our school (Kidawa National High School)Kidawa, Laak, Compostela Valley was not one of those lucky.Our schools and our students are hungry on that technology that would remarkably help them. By the way, I am Norman G. Jandog, Teacher-In-Charge of the School.Pls reply or help me in reaching this philantrohic organization.Thx a lot.

    [Reply]

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