Last-mile schools or those located in far-flung and isolated areas are still hoping to acquire the much-needed learning tools for their teachers and students under the Department of Education’s Public Education Network program amid the COVID-19 crisis.

DepEd Undersecretary Alain del Pascua said the program puts far-flung schools as the top priority in getting Internet access and electricity or solar panels.

“The direction is to bring Internet connection and laptops to all last-mile schools. We have already mapped them out. Out of the 9,000 last-mile schools, at least 3,000 have no electricity, and we plan to give them electricity,” said del Pascua.

Many last-mile schools, however, still lacked the necessary devices and Internet access. Among the far-flung schools that are barely keeping up is the Lasala Elementary School on Siargao Island that has one laptop received from the DepEd in 2018 and has no Internet connection save for Smart’s mobile data connectivity.

With 273 incoming pupils and 180 high school students, only five of its elementary teachers have laptops that were bought with borrowed money.

The DepEd has so far allocated P700 million for the program to increase connectivity in at least 5,000 to 7,000 schools and del Pascua said that the procurement is still ongoing. He added that there has been no procurement since February due to the health crisis and the agency has requested about P4.467 billion from the government.

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