The Lower House has passed two bills authored by Albay Rep. Joey Salceda designed to elevate public education in the country.
One bill aims to promote a state-of-the-art public school system, while the other seeks to provide a fair chance for students in far-flung and conflict ridden communities in knowledge pursuit.
Approved by the House in an online session early this week were the unnumbered substitute bills to HB 311, the Public Schools of the Future in Technology; and HB 307, the “Last Mile Schools Act” which proposes the construction of public schools facilities and the necessary access roads in geographically-isolated and disadvantaged conflict-areas.
Salceda said HB 311 seeks to introduce public school students into the digital world by providing each with a laptop computer and access to the Internet.
The COVID-19 pandemic, Salcesa said, has sped up the surge in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, with face-to- face school classes now being discouraged in favor of online learning and work from home mode is now allowed to facilitate the required social-distancing.
"(Under HB 311, students) receive instruction in digital classrooms complete with digital boards and such other tools and devices that will allow them to be at par with their peers in advanced countries," Salceda said.
It is projected that by 2025, half of today’s activities could be digitally enabled, and that in two years, 65 percent of current work skills will become obsolete due to technological innovations.
HB 307, on the other hand, seeks to provide public schools facilities in geographically-isolated and disadvantaged conflict-areas.
By constructing access roads to all "Last Mile Schools" nationwide, Salceda said this will ensure that “never again should a child put his life at risk by crossing streams or taking long walks on poor roads whether in good or bad weather, just to get to school.”
He said the country's eucation program should focus more on thi critical areas where school children are known to walk long stretches of mountain paths and poorly-maintained roads as well as cross stream rapids and flood-prone areas, exposing themselves daily to dangers just to learn.
Last Mile Schools, which are located in far flung-areas usually have no electricity, with less than 100 learners, more than half of whom are children from indigenous tribes.
Salceda said there are about 8,000 Last Mile Schools nationwide that need to be empowered and strengthened.