RS2: The Philippines

Bridging the digital divide: Tech4ED brings new tech closer to Filipinos

The Philippine government is working to help bridge the digital divide in the Philippines through a program called “Tech4ED” that aims to “set up community centers around the country where out-of-school youth, senior citizens, housewives, and other underserves sectors of society can have access to online government services and learning modules for skills development, digital literacy, and non-formal education” (para. 6). Through Tech4ED, students and graduates are able to pick up new skills and are slowly becoming more digitally literate (para. 7). Other beneficiaries such as housewives and mothers are able to develop relevant and useful skills that will hopefully help them learn how to “set up and manage a small business” (para. 7).

As of March 2017, over 1,300 Tech4ED centers have been established all over the country (para. 8) and serve nearly 55,000 Filipinos who are currently enrolled in the platform. Of the 55,000, 58% are women, and 64% are in below the age of 30 (para. 9).

The way the Tech4ED programs are set up to teach its members are through a mix of guided tutorials and self-paced modules, according to Tech4ED project manager Maria Teresa Camba (para. 12). One important skill utilized in these practices is an English language course, which combines audio and video lessons which are then followed by students going through modules on their own, accomplishing a variety of exercises through equipment provided for them (para. 11). Most members choose to learn practical skills that they can use to attain jobs, such as working with computers and cellphones, but overall, members are interested in honing their communication skills, both in Tagalog (native language) and English, learning basic computer skills, and managing money (para. 10).

Many resident Filipinos, particularly senior citizens, are wary and scared to face a very unfamiliar challenge. As program manager Camba, who was interviewed by author Katerina Francisco, put it, “takot sila kasi zero background talaga sila” (they were scared, because they had zero background on using these things). To help encourage them and others who may have hesitations to partake in the program, Tech4ED has been taken to sharing success stories of people recounting how they first got involved with the program and what “impact their newfound digital skills has had on their lives” (para. 22). These success stories have encouraged more people to join and retain people who have benefited from the program previously.

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