Senate review on free internet, distance learning laws sought – Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — As some schools continue to implement blended and distance learning, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian seeks a Senate inquiry on the implementation of two laws designed to help ensure reliable internet connection and continuous learning during emergency situations.
Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate committee on basic education, filed Senate Resolution 59, which seeks to determine the effectiveness of Republic Act 10929 (Free Internet Access in Public Places Act) and RA 10650 (Open Distance Learning Act) in education institutions and learning centers.
He said a Senate inquiry is necessary to assess the implementation of both laws and to identify and address the implementation gaps, issues and challenges.
The lawmaker noted that the implementation of these laws remains to be a problem, especially when the COVID-19 pandemic led to the suspension of face-to-face classes and the shift to distance learning.
Gatchalian noted that the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act was enacted to provide free internet access in public places nationwide. It also provides for free WiFi internet access in public basic education institutions, alternative learning system centers, state universities and colleges as well as the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) institutions, among others.
Based on the Free Public WiFi monitoring dashboard, only 945 public basic education schools, or about two percent of all public schools nationwide, have free public WiFi as of Jan. 29.
He said the Open Distance Learning Act, on the other hand, institutionalized Open Distance Learning (ODL) to expand and further democratize access to quality tertiary education.
“The law mandates the use of distance education as an appropriate, efficient and effective system of delivering quality higher and technical educational services in the country. To date, there are at least only 10 reputable higher education institutions offering distance education,” Gatchalian said.
“Although we have laws that would have helped in the implementation of distance learning, we still have gaps that must be filled to ensure continuous and quality education in the midst of the crisis. We need to address these challenges so that we can ensure that no student is deprived of education during disasters and any emergency situation,” he added.
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Post expires at 1:54pm on Sunday April 23rd, 2023

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