A number of celebrity parents publicly expressed their approval of House Bill No. 10405, also known as the “One Tablet, One Student Act of 2021.” Filed by former broadcaster and three-term Senator Loren Legarda, the bill seeks to provide every public elementary and secondary student, as well as those enrolled in State Universities and Colleges (SCUs), their own tablet as a learning tool.
Seen as a definite boost in the eagerness and capability of public school students to keep learning, columnist, real-estate broker and proud owner of artisanal Kamuning Bakery Wilson Lee Flores said, “This bill is a good idea to help equalize educational opportunities for public school students all over the Philippines who’ve suffered disadvantages of lack of tech gadgets.” He recommended the next steps to include “lowering costs and expanding nationwide better faster internet services.”
Similarly, actor-director Cesar Montano noted, “The bill, when enacted into law, will lessen the great disadvantage poor people experience in the school setting. It will provide equal opportunities to learn and excel. Sana ang susunod naman, malakas at matatag na internet sa buong bansa natin.”
Singer-songwriter Ogie Alcasid regards the bill as “excellent news,” adding, “It would help all students so much.”
Comedy Queen Ai-Ai de las Alas, who herself had been approached so countless times by students and parents asking for tablet donations, likewise expressed, “Sana totoong ma-provide sa lahat, lalo na yung mga mahihirap. Sa Pasig may libreng tablet, pero hindi lahat nabibigyan kaya maraming nanghihingi sa akin sa email.”
Metro Pacific Group’s Finance and Sustainability Chief and doting mother Chaye Cabal-Revilla spoke from the heart of a parent when she stated, “This is OK with me as a learning tool, but it should have restrictions with respect to time and access [of use]. A tablet can be a double-edged sword. When used properly, it can be a useful learning tool, but it can also be a distraction if given without limits.”
Legarda’s bill also advocates that students who already have personal learning gadgets of their own should instead receive educational assistance in the form of an internet allowance to cover the cost of connectivity.
The comebacking senator, who, as former Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, introduced numerous interventions in the budget allocation of the Education Sector. She urged both houses of Congress, currently working on the proposed 2022 national budget, to consider allocating funds for the said program. She believes it will significantly help public school students adapt to the online mode of learning amid the continuing Covid-19 pandemic.
As Senate Finance Chair and sponsor of previous General Appropriations Acts, Legarda introduced budget amendments to fund the free college education, free tuition for medical students in SUCs, and free wifi in all SUCs, among many others.
Based on DepEd data, 27 million elementary and high school students are enrolled in the current academic year. On the other hand, there are approximately 1.6 million enrolled in SUCs and local universities and Colleges (LUCs), based on the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) data. These figures do not include the teachers themselves who are likewise in need of such devices.
“While the proposed allocation is staggering, making sure that our students each have access to resources that would help them cope with changes in our educational system is needed for us to ensure that, despite the restrictions in the traditional modalities of classes, our students will still receive the kind of quality education that they deserve,” Legarda said.
In a letter to House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and House Appropriations Chairman Eric Go Yap, Legarda proposed to augment the proposed budget of DepEd by P154 billion to fund the implementation of “One Tablet, One Student” starting next year.
“There is no greater investment than education to help alleviate poverty and build a sustainable and progressive nation. We have to invest enough support for the education of our youth so that they can enjoy more opportunities to be eventually employed as professionals and productive members of our society,” Legarda said.