Smart aids DepEd in boosting PHL-wide early-grade learning

SMART Communications Inc., the mobile division of PLDT, has expressed full support to the efforts of the Department of Education (DepEd) in boosting early-grade education in the Philippines through their crisis-resilient and inclusive quality education programs that expand the agency’s teaching strategies.

In her talk at the industry leaders’ conference on Private Sector Support for Early Grade Learning, Stephanie Orlino, AVP and head of stakeholder management at PLDT and Smart, highlighted the PLDT Group’s education programs that have helped learners and teachers adapt to the pandemic.

She highlighted the School-in-a-Bag (SIAB) package that brings learning to last-mile schools. As the flagship education program of PLDT and Smart, each bag contains a laptop for the teacher, tablets preloaded with #LearnSmart apps making use of the student’s mother tongue, other learning content accessible offline, and a Smart LTE Pocket Wi-Fi kit which teachers can use to download more educational materials.

Since its launch in 2016 more than 500 SIAB packages have been deployed across the Philippines, according to Orlino. With the help of partners, the program has reached almost 95,000 learners, and trained more than 4,000 teachers.

Complementing the SIAB is the Central Visayas Institute Foundation-Dynamic Learning Program (CVIF-DLP)—a crisis-resilient teaching pedagogy developed by Ramon Magsaysay Award recipients Dr. Christopher Bernido and the late Dr. Ma. Victoria Carpio-Bernido.

Endorsed by the DepEd, CVIF-DLP encourages independent learning through the Learning Activity Sheets that improve learner outcomes even with minimal supervision from teachers and parents.

Orlino said the highly adaptive and flexible CVIF-DLP has motivated more than 1,000 public schools to utilize the pandemic-tested strategy, with almost 14,000 teachers trained.

“Once we acknowledge that our business impacts children and their future, then it makes sense to invest in early-childhood education. The gestation period may take some time, but it will be worth it,” said the Smart-PLDT executive. “As a partner of the community, the private sector can help build a brighter future by making sure that no learner is left behind.”

The event was organized by ABC+: Advancing Basic Education in the Philippines, a project of the DepEd and United States Agency for International Development implemented by RTI International, together with The Asia Foundation, SIL LEAD, and Florida State University.

She noted initiatives that support early-grade learning underpin PLDT and Smart’s commitment to help the Philippines achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal No. 4 on Inclusive Quality Education.