For 33-year-old Daisy Jane Diola of Cebu City, there could not be a better time to go back to school, betting against all odds in a pandemic. Giving up her sales job, she embraced technology and started attending online classes, one of hundreds of thousands nationwide now braving the challenges of e-learning in the new normal, and benefiting from local partnerships with PLDT, the country’s biggest and only integrated telco company.
“I am new to this kind of setup, but I am always open for new learnings,” Diola shared. “I am thankful for all the support we have been getting, especially our connectivity devices.”
PLDT, its wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), and PLDT Enterprise have teamed up with over a hundred schools, colleges and universities nationwide, as well as tech giants Microsoft and Google to make connectivity and digital solutions more accessible to the education sector.
Solutions, tools, platforms
“As the academic community gears up for the coming school year amid the new normal, we are one with them in ensuring that Filipino teachers and students are equipped with the best connectivity solutions and global-class e-Learning tools and platforms to aid their online education,” said Alfredo S. Panlilio, Smart President and Chief Executive Officer and PLDT Chief Revenue Officer.
These tools include discounted PLDT Home Wifi and Smart Bro Pocket Wifi units powered by Smart LTE. To date, Smart provides high-speed mobile internet service to over 93% of the country’s cities and municipalities and 95% of the population.
Under the Study Smart program, Smart and its partner distributors have provided these devices to various academic institutions nationwide, including Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University, De La Salle College of Saint Benilde-Antipolo, Pamantasan ng Cabuyao, Colegio de San Juan de Letran-Calamba, Ateneo de Naga University, Baliuag University, Malayan Colleges Laguna, Talisay City College, University of Antique, Iloilo Doctors College, Tagoloan Community College, University of Mindanao Digos and Davao campuses, Lyceum of the Philippines Davao, Philippine Academy of Sakya-Davao, Cagayan de Oro City National High School, Leonard Young Sr. National High School, Notre Dame of Dadiangas University, Notre Dame of Marbel University, Ateneo de Davao University, University of Southern Philippines Foundation and Cebu Technological University, to name a few.
New packages for education
Smart also recently launched new packages tailor-fit for education, such as GIGA Study, which has generous load allocations and access to academic suites such as Microsoft for Education, Google Classroom, Google Meet and Docs, YouTube, and various other learning management systems.
In addition, Smart has also partnered with laptop manufacturers and distributors to make these devices more affordable and accessible. Bundled with Smart Bro Pocket Wifi, these laptops and tablets are also available on installment basis in select distributors.
Smart has also partnered with Edukasyon.PH, an education technology start-up that provides a series of programs and software apps to enable Filipino students reach their academic goals.
PLDT Enterprise has also partnered with schools nationwide and offering BEYOND FIBER, an all-in-one digital solution that will enable businesses of any size, such as the academe, with curated digital tools and wi-fi fit for enterprise—all anchored upon business-grade fiber. PLDT’s fiber infrastructure, the country’s most extensive fiber network, is now nearly 360,000 kilometers nationwide.
The group’s partnership with global IT giants Microsoft and Google, for instance, has also helped ePLDT, the ICT arm of PLDT Enterprise, deliver highly effective products and packages that support the sector’s push to jumpstart e-learning.
ePLDT’s portfolio includes Microsoft Office 365 for Education, which includes Microsoft Teams for Education, which can be used by schools to build collaborative classrooms, create and distribute assignments, foster professional learning communities and connect with colleagues from a secure Office 365 Education experience.
To date, ePLDT has deployed around 248,000 Microsoft for Education licenses to different schools nationwide which are being used by both teachers and students. These schools include Holy Cross College of Pampanga, Sacred Heart School – Ateneo de Cebu, University of Cagayan Valley, Don Bosco Technology Center-Cebu, Gullas College of Medicine, Holy Family School of QC, St. Theresa’s College, and Velez College, among others.
Upgrading cyber technologies
ePLDT also offers Google Cloud’s G Suite for Education that combines G Suite’s collaboration capabilities with Google Classroom, and Chrome for Education via chromebooks to help students and teachers with hardware access.
PLDT, through its Infoteach Outreach Program, has also been providing learning opportunities to high school students as well as elementary and high school teachers nationwide by upgrading their cyber technology skills through internet basic IT education. PLDT also recently donated a computer laboratory to Butig National High School in Lanao del Sur.
The Department of Education also recently announced that it will be deploying the Smart-backed CVIF-Dynamic Learning Program as a supplemental learning resource for school year 2020-2021. Supported by Smart and PLDT-Smart Foundation, DLP is an independent learning strategy available in various delivery modalities. The methodology trains students to learn independently, with minimal intervention from teachers.
In cooperation with DepEd, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), Smart has also provided free access to the DepEd Commons, an online portal that provides free and quality learning resources to teachers and students.
These key initiatives of PLDT and Smart demonstrate the application of ICT for development, in support of the Group-wide advocacy to promote digital inclusion. These initiatives also aim to contribute to the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, particularly UN SDG #4 of providing quality education.