Community Tech

Adult learning gets boost with Learning Center, Smart School-in-a-Bag

When the Department of Education (DepEd) conceptualized the Alternative Learning System (ALS) over 15 years ago, its primary goal was simple: to assist out-of-school youth and adult learners who haven’t completed basic education.

Years later, the government agency realized the need to further enhance ALS education interventions. This led to the development of ALS-Education and Skills Training (ALS-EST), an initiative that combines the ALS curriculum with technical, vocational, and other skills training.

The integrated program aims to produce completers who are not only able to catch up with basic education, but have also acquired technical competencies for immediate employment. “The program was developed based on the assessment that ALS learners showed they were more likely to stick with the program if they also learned work skills along the way,” said DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno A. Malaluan.

Improved employability for ALS learners

While the ALS-EST is already implemented in 98 volunteer DepEd schools and five non-DepEd partners, the recently completed pilot ALS-EST Learning Center in the town of Lawaan in Eastern Samar is expected to further promote the effectiveness of alternative learning.

Located within the Lawaan National School of Craftsmanship and Home Industries, the facility has a large hall for lectures and workshops that can be divided or merged. The structure also takes into account the needs of student mothers and learners with disabilities, which would help remove the misconception that non-formal schooling equates to second-class education. “ALS is just another modality or pathway to literacy and – for many learners of special circumstances – it is their prized chance at basic education,” he said.

The first-ever ALS-EST Learning Center was funded by the Australian government through its Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and implemented by the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP). The partnership intends to construct four more identical facilities throughout the Philippines as they believe that education is the most effective solution against poverty.

“We hope that this donation will provide a conducive environment for learning and ensure that young people will get access to relevant skills,” said Australian Ambassador Steven J. Robinson.

DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno A. Malaluan with Smart’s Head for Education Programs Stephanie V. Orlino at the inauguration of the pilot Alternative Learning System - Education and Skills Training (ALS-EST) facility in Lawaan, Eastern Samar.

DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno A. Malaluan with Smart’s Head for Education Programs Stephanie V. Orlino at the inauguration of the pilot Alternative Learning System – Education and Skills Training (ALS-EST) facility in Lawaan, Eastern Samar.

“The end goal is to improve the employability of ALS learners and provide them with the expertise to start microenterprises,” he added.

Platform for offsite learning

According to USEC Malaluan, many alternative learners are unable to regularly show up for school, thus preventing them from completing their basic education. This is where Smart Communications (Smart) was able to support ALS-EST, as it provides a platform for offsite learning through the Smart School-in-a-Bag.

The flagship education program of the Philippines’ leading wireless services provider, Smart School-in-a-Bag is a portable digital classroom designed to provide access to technology to help deliver 21st century education even to remote schools without access to electricity. The 2×2 feet backpack contains a solar panel and battery, teacher’s laptop and tablet, Smart pocket WiFi, projector and screen, DVD player, TV, and student tablets that are pre-installed with literacy apps developed by Smart together with its community partners. Teacher training and program evaluation are also conducted.

With over 110 kits donated as of May 2019, the School-in-a-Bag program has benefitted over 30,000 learners and over 1,000 teachers in communities nationwide. These numbers are expected to grow with the use of the technology package in Lawaan ALS-EST.

“Having access to technology tools provided by School-in-a-Bag will surely motivate ALS-EST learners to attend sessions, since there are no limits to the resource materials that we access on the internet,” said Vicente R. Antofina Jr., a teacher for over 14 years.

More skills trainings

Aside from the School-in-a-Bag donation tailored for the program, Smart also plans on supporting ALS-EST by providing technology support and digital skills training, where needed,” said Stephanie V. Orlino, Head for Education Programs, Smart.

To learn more about the Smart School-in-a-Bag and Smart’s other CSR initiatives, visit or send an email to [email protected]. (Press Release)

Community Tech Uncategorized

Smart literacy apps named sole Filipino finalist in GSMA’s Asia Mobile Awards 2019

The roster of mother tongue-based literacy apps developed by leading wireless services provider Smart Communications (Smart) has been shortlisted in this year’s Asia Mobile Awards (AMO 2019).

Organized by mobile network operators group GSMA, AMO 2019 serves as the Asia Region’s leading stage for the latest and most innovative mobile products, apps, devices, services and initiatives.

Outstanding Mobile Contribution to the UN SDGs in Asia

Smart is in the running for its #LearnSmart Mother Tongue-Based Literacy Apps that were developed in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd) and academic institutions nationwide. The PLDT subsidiary initiated the local content development program in 2018 as a response to the lack of interactive local content for education and is the only finalist from the Philippines among the 50 contenders shortlisted by the AMO.

#LearnSmart app

The apps are nominated under the category of Outstanding Mobile Contribution to the UN SDGs in Asia. Other finalists include edotco Myanmar for Sustainable Connectivity Solution, China Mobile, Huawei Technologies & The 301 Hospital for The World’s First Successful 5G-Enabled Remote Surgery on a Living Human Patient, KaiOS for the emerging OS, KT & UNEP for Air Map Korea, and Mahindra Comviva for AsiaHawala.

The presentation of the Awards will take place at this year’s Mobile World Congress-Shanghai from June 26 to 28, 2019.

First of its kind

The LearnSmart mother tongue-based literacy apps feature lessons on local alphabet and numbers, videos showcasing local stories and songs, and games that help develop a learner’s essential memory and thinking skills. The mobile tools were designed to be interactive to make teaching and learning basic literacy in the local language more interesting and encouraging for both the teachers and the learners.

To-date, Smart has launched nine #LearnSmart literacy applications: Bahay Kubo (Filipino), Kaalam (Cebuano), Ta’allam and Tahderiyyah (Arabic), Matisalug (Matigsalug indigenous peoples Tribe of Davao and Bukidnon), Kaaram (Waray), Katao (Inabaknon), Singsing (Kapampangan), and Sanut (Ilokano). To-date, the suite of apps are the only mobile tools in the Philippines that feature localized educational content. In the case of Matigsalug, it is the first tribal app of its kind in the country, while Tahderiyyah is the first literacy app for the Bangsamoro children.

The main delivery pipeline of the apps is through the Smart School-in-a-Bag program, which are portable digital classrooms that are donated to remote and under-served schools in the Philippines with intermittent to no power. With more than 110 learning packages deployed as of end-2018, over 30,000 students around the Philippines have been given the opportunity to improve their performance in school though Smart’s flagship education initiative.

Aside from School-in-a-Bag beneficiaries, anyone can also download the #LearnSmart apps for free via Google Play.


Game-changing mobile devices and technologies

Prior to being named as a finalist in AMO 2019, the roster of mother-tongue literacy apps was previously awarded by the Public Relations Society of the Philippines with Silver citations at the 54th Anvil Awards. The nods were for Best PR Program Directed at Specific Stakeholders and Best PR Tool – Mobile Application.

Now on its fourth year, the AMOs recognize game-changing mobile devices and technologies, to applications and services developed for, or available in Asian markets, showcasing the ever growing value that mobility brings to users, industries, businesses, communities and economies across Asia’s countries and regions.

Smart’s previous AMO nods include a nomination in 2018 for SHINE OS+ (Secured Health Information Network and Exchange), an electronic medical record and referral system spearheaded by Smart and the Ateneo Java Wireless Competency Center. From 2007 to 2009, the company also won AMOs for several Mobile Money and Advertising-Marketing initiatives, as well as a nomination under the Green Mobile Award for the company’s tarpaulin recycling initiatives. (Press Release)


Smart employees, families donate digital learning packages to far-flung communities

English teacher Dexter Masiado has a problem with student absenteeism. Not even half of his 75 pupils at Trangka Elementary School in Maasin, Iloilo attend his classes at any given day.

He doesn’t blame his students, who are composed mostly of indigenous people. To get to school, they need to walk three hours on a mountain path – and that’s on a good day. On rainy days, they need to trudge muddy trails wearing nothing on their feet but plastic. They would arrive at school drenched and shaking.

“A lot of them also forgo classes to help their parents earn a living. Instead of attending classes, they would plough the field, harvest rice, or weave sawali,” Masiado said.

The teacher was thus very happy when he learned that their school would receive a School-in-a-Bag from Smart Communications. This is a big backpack containing a laptop, tablets, TV, a solar panel with batteries, pocket Wi-Fi, and educational content. The package also includes teacher training and yearlong monitoring.

“The students will definitely be more interested to go to school now. They have not yet been introduced to 21st century tools like tablets, laptop, and the internet,” Masiado said.

Smart School-in-a-bag
Smart meets three of its latest School-in-a-Bag recipients. In the photo are Smart employees led by Chief People and Culture Officer Liza Sichon (center) and People Group AVP Cheryll Agsaoay (standing fourth from left), and representatives of Trangka Elementary School in Maasin, Iloilo; Jubilee Shelter Program in Plaridel, Bulacan; and an Alternative Learning System center in Tanay, Rizal.

Previous recipients of the Smart School-in-a-Bag have reported enhanced literacy and heightened interest in learning among their students. One teacher in Albay noted that some of her students would even go to school despite class suspensions so they could learn from the tablets.

The School-in-a-Bag is donated by Smart and its partner individuals and organizations to remote communities, including those without electricity, to help enhance the learning of students through technology and non-tech solutions.

The package that Trangka Elementary School will receive is a donation from Smart employees and their families, who sponsored the P100,000 kit by participating in a program called Smart Saturdays.

For three Saturdays last year, employees were invited to watch blockbuster movies with their loved ones and buy special event shirts for a certain amount. The collected amount was enough to put together seven School-in-a-Bag kits for underserved schools.

“I am really pleased that thousands of our employees participated in the program, not just to enjoy the movies with their families, but also to help other people,” said Smart People Group AVP for Communication and Engagement Cheryll Agsaoay. “I’m proud to say that our employees have taken to heart Smart’s mission of improving the lives of Filipinos through technology. The devices, connectivity, and educational content included in the School-in-a-Bag will help students in remote areas learn more about the world beyond their hometowns.”

Agsaoay added that Smart would continue its Smart Saturdays program to reach more far-flung schools.

So far, Smart and its partner donors have delivered 38 School-in-a-Bag units to 65 learning communities all over the country. Those interested to help can email [email protected] for more details.


UBS Phils, PSF turn over School-in-a-Bag for Mindanao learners

Students of remote schools in Talayan, Maguindanao and Patikul, Sulu will soon benefit from digital learning made possible by Smart Communications’ School-in-a-Bag. Containing a laptop, five tablets, TV, a solar panel with batteries, and educational content, the learning package is donated to far-flung communities, especially those without electricity.

UBS Investments Philippines and the PLDT-Smart Foundation (PSF) recently turned over two School-in-a-Bag packages to the Department of Education (DepEd). These are part of the P1 million donation UBS made to the PSF last year.

School in a bag UBS
DONATION. Photo shows (from left) Smart Public Affairs Senior Manager Stephanie Orlino, DepEd Undersecretary Alain Pascua, and PSF President Esther Santos.

Smart created the School-in-a-Bag to improve the quality of education in remote schools. Since launching the program in 2016, Smart and partner donors have delivered 38 School-in-a-Bag units to 65 learning communities all over the country. Each bag, inclusive of training for teachers, costs P100,000.

Because there are about 6,000 public schools that still do not have access to electricity, organizations and even individuals are encouraged to donate School-in-a-Bag units. Interested parties may send an email to [email protected]. (Press Release)


Smart wins Grand Prix, Grand Anvil at Oscars of PR

Smart Communications maintained its winning streak at the Anvil Awards, receiving top honors for the third straight year at the Oscars of public relations in the Philippines.

In a ceremony held recently in Taguig, Smart won the Grand Prix Award for having the highest number of Gold Anvils this year. The company also got the Grand Anvil recognition for SHINE OS+ (Secured Health Information Network and Exchange), an electronic medical record system that enables health facilities to provide faster and better service to their patients. The Grand Anvil is given to the most outstanding public relations program of the year.

The Anvil Awards has been conducted annually for 53 years by the Public Relations Society of the Philippines.

Anvil Awards
ANVIL AWARDS. Smart representatives – led by Chief Financial Officer Chaye Cabal-Revilla (center), SVP for consumer business market development Oscar Reyes Jr., and public affairs FVP Mon Isberto – receive Anvil awards last March 23 at Shangri-La Fort.

Smart received Gold Anvils for the following corporate social responsibility, employee engagement, and customer service programs:

SHINE OS+, an open system that allows developers to create plugins addressing the various needs of health workers. Among the plugins created are a system that automates the sending of reminder SMS to diabetes patients, and a plugin that enables nurses in Nepal to collect health surveillance and preparedness data during and after disasters.

Learning as One Nation, an effort to help improve the Department of Education’s Arabic Language and Islamic Values Education (ALIVE) program in General Santos and Sarangani. Smart is helping develop an app that teaches Arabic language and values, while promoting independent learning among ALIVE students through the Dynamic Learning Program created by Ramon Magsaysay Awardees Dr. Christopher Bernido and Dr. Ma. Victoria Carpio-Bernido.

School-in-a-Bag, a learning package donated to public schools in remote areas without electricity. The donation includes a solar panel, mobile devices, digital educational content, teacher training, and monitoring.

TNT Tropang Ready Caravan, which inculcates disaster preparedness among college students and encourages them to promote preparedness in their respective communities

Smart Saturdays, a program where employees pay a participation fee to watch blockbuster movies with their families and colleagues. The participation fees are then used to donate School-in-a-Bag units to underserved schools.

Smart Chatbot, a tool on Facebook Messenger that enables Smart customers to view their billing statements and remaining balance, subscribe to promos, purchase eLoad, and request to chat with an agent.

Meanwhile, Smart’s Silver Anvil awardees are Smart Bro’s Bond Like Never Before campaign which encourages parents to use mobile technology to bond with their children, Doon Po Sa Amin Storytelling Caravan which promotes local storytelling for Filipino children, the Paskong Pinoy yearend celebration for employees, the PLDT Group’s efforts to transform its corporate culture to support its digital pivot, the Smart Communities Facebook page which provides information about Smart’s CSR programs, and Smart Millenniors which engages the youth to guide their elders on the use of mobile devices and the internet.

The Silver Anvil list also includes Smart Paywall, a web tool that helps Smart Bro customers avoid unwanted mobile internet charges; Smart TechnoCart, a donation package similar to the School-in-a-Bag that targets more urban communities and contains more devices; the SWEEP (Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program) Awards which encourages students to create innovations solving real problems; the TNT App and TNT Online Store which make it easier for TNT customers to complete transactions; and TNT Tropa Trip, a nationwide summer road show promoting the Choose Your Tropa Apps promo. (Press Release)

Community Tech

Smart donates digital learning packages for Basilan learners

Students in Basilan, particularly those under the Alternative Learning System (ALS), now have access to mobile tools and digital content that will help make learning more fun and effective for them.

Smart Communications recently turned over two School-in-a-Bag units to the Department of Education-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, represented by Secretary Rasol Mitmug, in Lantawan town.

Each School-in-a-Bag contains a solar panel for recipients without access to electricity, tablets preloaded with fun educational content, and other devices. The donation package also includes training for teachers and yearlong monitoring.

School in a bag
TURNOVER. Smart public affairs senior manager Stephanie Orlino (standing third from right) turns over a School-in-a-Bag to Basilan teachers.

The two units will benefit students in Lantawan and Sumisip under the ALS, a learning option for those without access to formal education in schools.

“I am thankful that Smart is there to help the education sector, as its capabilities in delivering technology fit the needs of the next generation,” Mitmog said.

ALS coordinator Aurora Anamon said, “It is a big thing for learners to see videos on a screen. The visual learning approach helps a lot. There are adult learners who will benefit from this because they wish to learn through technology.”

ALS teacher Husaita Barillo-Pantao said the School-in-a-Bag would lighten the heavy load of teachers, particularly in terms of preparing visual aids.

Smart developed the School-in-a-Bag after a study it had commissioned showed that the managed use of tablets in the classroom boosted learning and interest in lessons. While it has donated several units to schools in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, Smart is also calling on individuals and organizations who wish to bring digital learning to more areas in the country. Interested parties may email [email protected] for details.

Community Feature Tech

Batibot now on App Store

Educational app develops essential thinking skills among children

Parents using iOS-powered smartphones and tablets can now download for free the Batibot mobile application, an interactive version of the beloved TV show that helps enhance learning among children.

Earlier launched on the Android platform, the app features fun games that teach kids basic learning concepts like matching, sorting, and grouping. The app also lets children practice tracing letters with the proper strokes, and helps them identify shapes, colors, numbers, and letter sounds.

The Batibot app is the first educational app in Filipino that is aligned with the kindergarten curriculum of the Department of Education.

Aligned with curriculum

The app’s “Awiting Batibot” feature enables kids to sing along to Batibot songs, while “Kuwentong Batibot” contains local stories that promote good values.

What makes the Batibot app stand out from other educational apps is that it is the only app in the Filipino language that is aligned with the kindergarten curriculum of the Department of Education.

The Batibot app is the product of a collaboration among Smart Communications, Community of Learners Foundation, and developer startup OrangeFix. The app jumpstarted Smart’s efforts to work with various communities and organizations to create literacy apps in local languages.

Batibot app
The app features local stories that promote Filipino values.

Filipino language, values

Smart public affairs head Mon Isberto said that since the Batibot app was launched on the Android platform, a lot of parents had inquired as to when it would be downloadable on iOS devices.

“Many parents based here and abroad said their kids had grown up speaking English, and that they wanted their children to be proficient in the Filipino language too. The Batibot app will certainly help them brush up on Filipino in a fun, interactive way,” he said.

“When you search for educational content online, you’ll find that most of them are in English. There is a need for digital learning content that promotes the Filipino language as well as Filipino values. The Batibot app addresses that need,” Isberto added.

Kids can now have the fun Batibot experience that their parents had, through the Batibot app.

Technocart, School-in-a-Bag

To bring the Batibot app to remote, underserved communities, Smart installs the app in the tablets it donates to public schools under the TechnoCart and School-in-a-Bag programs.

Smart TechnoCart, which is donated to public schools with electricity, is a 2×2 ft mobile laboratory containing 20 tablets for students, as well as a laptop, projector, and mobile Wi-Fi with starter load for the teacher. The School-in-a-Bag, which is meant for remote public schools without electricity, is a backpack containing a solar panel, a laptop, five tablets, a mobile phone, a pocket Wi-Fi with starter load, LED TV, and learning modules.

Smart as well as individual and corporate sponsors have so far donated TechnoCarts to 40 schools, and School-in-a-Bag units to 18 schools all over the Philippines.

Teachers of the recipient schools are given training on tablet basics and on child and curriculum development.

Powerful learning tools

“Combined with guidance from elders, mobile devices and the internet can be powerful tools in enhancing learning among children,” Isberto said.

“Batibot helped shape a generation of Filipinos, many of whom are now parents and teachers. They now have an opportunity to share the Batibot learning experience with their children and students through the Batibot app,” he added.

To know more about Smart’s initiatives to use technology for the development of different social sectors like education, please follow the Smart Communities page on Facebook. Those interested to sponsor Smart TechnoCarts or School-in-a-Bag units may send an email to [email protected] for more information. (Press release)