Sunday, June 27, 2010

eSkwela: Inspiring education for the differently abled

originally posted on by Melody (20 Nov 2009)
With no school sufficiently prepared to accept a student with muscular
dystrophy, Phil Ray Neri absorbed everything he can from his first teacher, his mother. At nine years old, he began to read and dreamt of going to school one day. His disability never hindered him from pursuing an education and a normal student life.

Now, the boy who was once deprived of education is already taking up Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (BSIT) at the Mindanao University of Science and Technology (formerly Mindanao Polytechnic State College) through a scholarship grant from Congressman Rufus B. Rodriguez.

Phil Ray Neri shared this and more to the participants of the eSkwela session during the recently concluded Cagayan de Oro leg of Convergence 2009 last November 12-13, 2009.

Phil Ray got his elementary credentials from the Individualized Curriculum for Educating Children with disability (ICEC), a curriculum established and developed by his mother and his doctor, Dr. Enrique Ampo in Cagayan de Oro Public Library with the approval of former city mayor Hon. Vicente Emano.

In 2005, he obtained an elementary graduate certification after passing the Department of Education’s Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) examination. At eleven years old, he officially enrolled under the Commission on ICT-DepEd eSkwela Program. Two months later, all his hard work paid off as he passed both his high school screening and the A&E exam for high school, making history as the first differently abled student to have taken and passed both exams in Cagayan de Oro City.

Now a college freshman, Phil Ray looks back and encourages other learners to dream big. “Believe in miracles because our faith and hopes keep us going with our daily lives,” he concludes.

Through his story, Phil Ray hopes to inspire people to their fullest potential, believing that in eSkwela, everything is possible.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mobile teacher Marlyn Lozada: Unlocking Potentials of the Deprived

“Alternative Learning System opens doors of opportunity and helps transform lives especially for the deprived.”

This is according to 33-year old Marlyn Lozada who has been a mobile teacher in Bay, Liliw and Luisiana, Laguna for seven years and one of the Most Outstanding Mobile Teachers of 2008. Aside from mentoring learners who had to stop schooling because of work, she also teaches those who have experienced some form of abuse and others who are differently-able.

A case in point, a learner who suffered from medicine overdose as a child had to stop schooling when the parents deemed he would not learn anyway.

These students require one-on-one teaching. She observed, “At first, they were not very responsive but, when they see you are committed and that you value their progress, they also begin to give importance to their education. Eventually, their parents also offer their support.”

For Lozada, being a mobile teacher is a case of serendipity. Armed with a Psychology degree, she started as a daycare teacher. She took on the job when the one who was hired backed out. “I wasn’t prepared but then the timing was just right as a national assembly in Baguio was about to take place. There I was trained and was enlightened.”

Education Secretary Jesli Lapus affirmed, “Today’s heroes come in the person of our mobile teachers who reach out to otherwise inaccessible learners.

According to Lapus, the country’s non-traditional teachers such as Lozada brave difficult circumstances to bring education to out-of-school children, youth, and adults in the country’s most remote places.

Our mobile teachers will bring us closer to meeting our Education for All (EFA) goals,” Lapus stressed.

Lozada said, “We teach out-of-school youth (OSYs) and those who do not know how to read or write. But you cannot group them because they do not have the same skills and may make one group insecure. You also have to know their interests and use them to stimulate learning.”

She explained that mobile teachers have to adjust their teaching sessions depending on the schedule of learners. “In case of the mothers, our mentoring starts after they cook lunch.”

She also learned to be creative, resourceful, and able to convince and get everyone in the community to help out in the advocacy.

The community she serves is engaged primarily in agriculture while others are in the business of weaving pandan leaves into mats. So I teach in a storage area (bodega), which I call Project Mat. She told the business owner about the advocacy and he allowed her to teach the workers in three hours, two or three times a week. “Sometimes these OSYs have to go to Region I to transport their products so we only meet twice.”

“Though we cannot provide for their livelihood, we open their eyes to what they can become if they take seriously the government’s education outreach program.”

She said she takes time to explain to her learners that education can help them not only improve their income but open better opportunities they never thought existed.

She recalled, “Before, we have to look for our learners but these days, we get more support from the barangay. They recommend community residents who need education whom we welcome into our fold,”

We appreciate the barangay for helping is in community-mapping, in providing venues and ensuring our security.

Meanwhile, one local church also allowed her to use their area for her teaching.

The support of the community and the determination of the OSYs to learn have been overwhelming.

Her supervisor admitted to her that she thought Lozada wouldn’t last long in the job. “But, when she made a surprise visit, I think she saw my commitment and how seriously I do my work.”

Usually, this is a job for men as it requires mobility. In Laguna, for instance, there are 14 mobile teachers and only three are female. Armed with her modules and instructional materials, she rides a motorbike daily to be in her work assignment located far apart in the province.

Her next challenge

“One more year,” that’s what she would say to her husband whenever he would insist that she finds another job.

But there seems to be no stopping Lozada, who manages to raise two children, 11 and 14 years old, while regularly attending to her learners.

“Before they were always upset that I have to leave them but these days, they know my cause and they approve of it.”

The challenge is to get more learners to pass the DepEd’s Accreditation and Equivalency Test and be of help in developing learning modules which can be used by other teachers. She cited her recent work “Ang Aming Gawain,” which is about the role of each member of the family but also teaches basic literacy.

Her motivation comes from the learners themselves, seeing them learn and develop their potentials. The Bureau of Alternative Learning System (BALS), she said, is also very supportive, offering timely and relevant training and providing her very useful educational tools.

“My mission in life is to serve God and other people,” she explained. “Ang Diyos ay makatarungan -- God sees what we do even if at times others do not appreciate or do not even seem to notice.

Source: DepEd, December 15, 2009
For more information, please contact Director Carolina Guerrero of the
Bureau of Alternative Learning System (BALS) at 635-5188.

Monday, November 2, 2009

eSkwela-Kalumpang Ravaged by Ondoy

Who would’ve thought that on September 26, 2009, the loss of many lives and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people will occur?

Typhoon Ondoy was initially thought of like anyone of the hundreds of storms to hit the country. Little did people know the catastrophe that lay ahead. Ondoy has managed to strike the county bringing along with it a month's worth of rainfall to Metro Manila and nearby areas in just a few hours. People were left unprepared and were simply at a loss when the storm has finally shown its true effect.

A lot of cities were submerged in floodwater. Cars were left floating in the street. Transportation was in chaos. Friends and families were out trying to get hold of their loved ones’ whereabouts. Everything was simply amiss.

In Barangay Kalumpang, Marikina where a newly established eSkwela center was located, water level ranged from knee deep to over first floor houses. At the center itself, everything was in morbid disarray with mud all over the place. Items are still there but they are no longer usable or cannot even be repaired. Computer units and its peripherals such as speakers, headsets and the likes were all covered in mud and so were the records, books, modules, tables, and chairs.

What could’ve been a fun and innovative way of ICT-based learning was put to a halt. The center’s learning facilitator, Ms. Ivy Coney Gamatero, had to work hard on restoring normalcy. What with the out of school youth and adult learners bent on passing the Accreditation and Equivalency Exam, they had to make do with what they have. Below is a picture showing the eSkwela-Kalumpang before and after the typhoon has staked its claim.

Despite the disruption and material losses felt, they were happy that everyone is safe and lives were spared. Right now they are still trying to get the support of anyone, including their local partners and stakeholders, who would be willing to impart computers, cash, or any form of donation. Learning sessions may take some time before it can be back to its regular scheme but as far as everyone’s concerned, tomorrow is another day to stand tall and face the new challenges that await.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Local Partners Open New eSkwela Centers

At the eSkwela center in Siay, Zamboanga Sibugay, learning facilitators teach eSkwela learners how to use the e-learning modules and module guides.

Local partnerships paved the way for the establishment of 13 more eSkwela centers in the country.

Through the initiative of different implementers, such as Department of Education (DepEd) divisions, local government units (LGUs), non-government organizations (NGOs), schools, and civic groups, 21 eSkwela centers are up and running as of September 2009.

eSkwela centers accommodate out-of-school youth and adults (OSYAs), enabling them to attend information and communication technology (ICT)-based learning sessions. With the help of learning facilitators, OSYAs undergo learning sessions, which make use of digitized modules and a learning management system.

Through these learning sessions, OSYAs can acquire relevant life skills, prepare for the Accreditation and Equivalency Exam (A and E Exam), and finish their high school education, among others. Those who pass the A and E Exam, which is administered by DepEd, receive a high school diploma.

New centers established

In Luzon, the new eSkwela centers are located in Baguio City; San Fernando City, La Union; Laoag City, Ilocos Norte; Boac, Marinduque; and San Fernando, Camarines Sur.

eSkwela Baguio City is spearheaded by the Save our Street Children Foundation, a non-government organization, while eSkwela San Fernando City is led by the San Fernando Christian Community.

The eSkwela centers in Boac, Marinduque; Laoag City, Ilocos Norte; and San Fernando, Camrines Sur are led by their local DepEd divisions and LGUs. eSkwela San Fernando, Camarines Sur is the first mobile laboratory in the country. (See the story Bringing Alternative Learning Closer to OSYAs).

In the Visayas, the new eSkwela center, which is led by the local DepEd division and LGU, is located in Tanauan, Leyte.

Seven eSkwela centers were set up in Mindanao. These are in the cities of Davao, Digos, Pagadian, and Oroquieta and in the municipalities of Asuncion, Davao del Norte; Isulan, Sultan Kudarat; and Siay, Zamboanga Sibugay. These centers were established through the support of local DepEd divisions and LGUs.

Other stakeholders also include Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao, which is an active partner of eSkwela in Davao City, Digos City, Asuncion, and Isulan, Sultan Kudarat. In Oroquieta City, the eSkwela center was sponsored by the local DepEd division, the Misamis Occidental National High School and the Parents, Teachers and Community Association.

The four eSkwela pilot sites are located in Roces, Quezon City; San Jose del Monte, Bulacan; Cebu City, and Cagayan de Oro City. These were followed by eSkwela centers in Ormoc City, Zamboanga City, Loyola Heights, Quezon City, and Kalumpang, Marikina City.

Need for local support

The Commission on Information and Communications Technology, through the Human Capital Development Group, works closely with the Department of Education, particularly the Bureau of Alternative Learning Systems, in bringing ICT-enhanced educational opportunities for Filipino OSYAs.

The establishment of new eSkwela centers would not be possible without the initiative and support of local partners and stakeholders though. Through these partnerships, additional eSkwela centers are established and more OSYAs in the country are provided with free alternative learning opportunities.

Related Stories:
First batch of eSkwela scholars in Tanauan ready to take DepEd's October 11 A&E test

Davao City DepEd launches eSkwela pilot center in Region XI
New computer sets given to Tanauan’s CeC

Monday, October 5, 2009

The eSkwela Experience (contribution from WMSU)

Below are testimonials from two WMSU team members who are involved in the eSkwela Content Development Project...eSkwela touches lives indeed. =D

Maycibel Rodriguez, Pool Leader (eSkwela developer)

I have only been on a rollercoaster ride once, and the experience was enough to last me a lifetime. Every time the car twisted up and hurled down at a speed only theoretical physicists with an “unusual” sense of humor can appreciate, I mentally screamed a prayer to every saint I can think of. Considering I was a mere jumble of barely suppressed fear and excitement, the ability to even think of trivial thoughts at that time was no small feat. However, it was one of those experiences that can make you look back and cringe but at the same time grin like a fool. It was good because it was bad. My e-Skwela experience was something close to that fateful rollercoaster ride, only better.

I can still remember clearly the day our Department Head told us about the project. When she laid out the description of the project, the requirements, the time frame, and the compensation, well, you might say we sort of focused on the last part. The rest was a bit vague but we figured it was worth a try.

Actually, during the first three to four months of the project development, that was exactly what we did – we tried. Boy, did we try. Between our classes, students, scripts, media, and whatever little personal life we had left, we had to juggle our time, effort, creativity, and consciousness (getting three hours of sleep became our definition of a “good night sleep”). There were even times when I came close to pulling my hair out of frustration, but only because I thought it was impolite to yank someone else’s hair right off their scalp. Ok, that sounded harsh, but thankfully that’s all water under the bridge now.

The thing was, the project was something new to all of the members in the team – we’ve never done any flash programming, we never thought that learning Adobe Photoshop can be life-changing (it used to be one of the unused applications in my PC), we’ve never had to deal with different sets of people with different perspectives and requirements (and we had to consider all of them), we’ve never designed interactive course content, and we never thought that trips to Manila and Bataan will be a monthly activity (for nine consecutive months, no less). In short, it was the first time we ever ventured so far away from our comfort zones. Looking back, I’d say those were the “cringe” moments of the whole experience. The turning point came with the first Beta Review.

The night before our flight for Manila and Bataan for the first Beta Review, we were still working on the last topic of one of our modules. There were still illustrations to draw and polish. The audio was yet to be edited and joined with the video, and of course, the whole thing was yet to be programmed and published. At that time we were working at the library of the college. However, when 11pm came and it was clear that we will need more time to finish everything, we decided to take everything to my home and finish it there where it was safer and the supply of electricity was more stable. We continued working until dawn. The flight for Manila was scheduled for 7 am. I started to pack at 4 am. We finished all media and programming at 5am. Publishing took nearly an hour to finish. Finally, around 6 am we were on our way to the airport. Standing there at the side of the highway waiting for a jeepney, I saw a plane making its final descend and I thought about my flight. Suddenly, it hit me. That must be the same plane for my flight! However, my home is approximately 12 kilometers away from town and the airport, and there was not one jeepney in sight yet. I fought down the panic and just refused to think that I will be late for my flight.

Luckily I was right, and everything went well for our trip. Better yet, we were able to get some sleep before leaving for Bulacan early the following day. Moreover, the review was a success. I was ready to fall asleep again on my feet but I knew I still had to fight it off for at least 2 more hours (I was awake for 24 hours straight, and slept for 4, so go figure). However, seeing the enthusiasm and excitement of the participants was like watching the final piece of the puzzle fall into place. Somehow, it all finally made sense – the design requirements, the language and the tone, and the impact that the modules can make on the lives of the learners.

After that, we somehow had a better understanding of what we should aim for. It also became easier to manage our time to accommodate any last minute changes or adjustments. Furthermore, we expanded the team to include a number of selected students to help us in the development.

Like a rollercoaster ride, the e-Skwela experience had its share of highs and lows. However, I now understand that the only way to get to the former is to go through the latter. To date, all of our 20 modules have been certified by the Department of Education, making us the first SUC to have all their modules certified. Knowing that and looking back, I find myself grinning like a fool because well, yes, it sure feels good to know I was able to make it through alive, in one piece, my sanity intact, and with two or three new skills to boot. Best of all I have come to know and made friends with a lot of people – Ma’am Nida and all the reviewers from DepEd BALS, Ma’am Lydia and the members of her team, Doc Lloyd and his team of experts, and of course Ma’am Mel, Jops and the rest of the e-Skwela team.

In one way or another, I believe I speak for the entire WMSU team when I say that although the e-Skwela project has initiated a paradigm shift in our way of teaching and learning, we prefer to think that through the project we were able to make a difference in the lives of other people.

Mel Sheena Carballo, student developer

This eSkwela project started when some of the modules were given to us as part of the requirements for the Software Engineering subject. Instead of doing the usual softwares, I decided to be part of something new so I volunteered to be in one of the groups that would handle the assigned modules. At first, I thought that it would be very difficult since we had to make a software that teaches instead of keeping records, but I took it as a challenge.

As we were developing the module assigned to our team, I have learned the importance of education, that not everyone is given the chance to formal education. Upon knowing the objectives of the eSkwela project, I have realized that through this project, the out-of-school learners can also be educated through this type of learning system that employs the use of softwares as instructional materials. That is why our team really did the best that we can to be able to present our topic in a way that can easily be understood especially by the out-of-school learners. I also learned to be patient and be cooperative with my team because no matter how difficult things get, as long as there is patience and cooperation, everything will be alright.

As the saying goes, “Success is a journey, not a destination; the doing is more important than the outcome”, and for me, how we developed this project is more meaningful. Through this project, I was able to do things for the first time. Together with my team, I lived in a house for a couple of months, had sleepless nights, acted and did voice-overs. And, the most meaningful of all are the memories that I have shared together with my friends and teachers. I was able to have good friends through my team. I really enjoyed their company. Some of the things that I cannot forget about them were when we had to be actors for our own scripts and would end up laughing just by seeing ourselves in those videos, when we had to conduct meetings at midnight regarding our presentations to the client for the next morning. All of these were thanks to the eSkwela project.

My eSkwela experience is one of the things that I will treasure for the rest of my life. I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity to be part of it.

Friday, July 24, 2009

ICT World Today article - RRC on eSkwela

This article was published in the Summer 2009 edition of the "ICT World Today" journal by the Korea Information Society Development Institute. The journal is distributed internationally.

It's entitled "Empowering the Underserved through ICT" - it starts off with a discussion of CICT's efforts in harnessing Broadband and Mobile Technologies then continues on how ICTs are being maximized to provide better access to quality way would be through eSkwela.

Click on this link to view the article: ICT World Today - RRC

Hail! Hail! eSkwela is gaining ground in terms of advocacy - not only locally but also internationally.

Please stay tuned for the notice on the availability of the UNESCO-Bangkok's publication on eSkwela...coming really soon.

Bringing Alternative Learning Closer to OSYAs

How a husband-and-wife team brought the eSkwela Project to the out-of-school youth and adults of San Fernando, Camarines Sur

by Carl Bailey, Lenay EnseƱado and Ave Mejia

For Joaquin “Jack” Olitoquit of San Fernando, Camarines Sur, what started out as a search for a plastic disc led to accidentally discovering the eSkwela Project, and ended up in him jointly establishing the first mobile eSkwela Center in the country.

No stranger to community service, Jack was at the forefront of addressing the plight of San Fernando’s farmers as a community organizer, having been a farmer himself. He was also involved in parish work; with his trusty motorcycle, he rode through rebel-infested areas to deliver medicine to the outskirts of Camarines Sur. Currently, he is a consultant of the municipal government, working on development and livelihood projects for San Fernando.

Jack is not alone in his passion for serving the community. His wife, Rose, is a DepED District Alternative Learning System (ALS) Coordinator; she spends her time going from one barangay to another as she conducts learning sessions for out-of-school youth and adults (OSYAs). In San Fernando, a fourth-class municipality where farming is the main source of livelihood, one third of school-aged children has dropped out of the formal education system or has not enrolled in high school after finishing Grade Six. They end up tending to farms and working in construction projects; some venture abroad as domestic helpers – just as their parents and grandparents did in years past. Through these hard-luck locals, the cycle of poverty continues its painful course.

The task of teaching OSYAs is not an easy one. Apart from the challenge of getting them to sign up as ALS learners, Rose has to make sure that the OSYAs stay on as ALS learners. She has to be creative and keep them motivated, with the hope that they become functionally literate, perhaps even acquire knowledge and skills equivalent to a high school education.

Jack witnessed firsthand how his wife takes on this challenge. He sees her sorting through worn-out print modules, spending her own money for photocopying additional copies once the modules become unusable. One night after supper, Jack asked how he can help her improve on these materials; Rose mentioned that the modules are available in compact disc (CD) and that it would greatly help her if she could obtain a clear master copy by printing the modules straight from the CD, and reproducing these instead.

By then, Jack could now do something to help his wife.

Trip to Manila

Jack immediately took the eight-hour bus ride to Manila in order to obtain the CD from the DepED main office. Upon his arrival, he was advised by the DepED - Bureau of Alternative Learning System (BALS) to also go to the eSkwela Center in Roces Avenue, Quezon City where he can get a copy of the CD. Once he was at the Center, Angelyn Malabanan, an eSkwela learning facilitator, was generous enough to provide him not only a copy of the CD but also a walk-through on how ALS sessions are conducted there, albeit with a technological twist.

At the eSkwela Center, the learners use electronic, multimedia and interactive versions of the ALS print modules (the modules are converted and developed by CICT, DepED-BALS, and eSkwela’s partner State Universities and Colleges, or SUCs). ALS Mobile teachers and Instructional Managers, doubling as eSkwela learning facilitators, engage their learners in discussions and exercises through the Learning Management System (LMS) software. The learners treat Internet educational websites as an immense library, and create individual and collaborative projects using the Center’s computer and digital equipment, online resources and open-source software.

At that point, Jack was not satisfied in bringing just the CD back home to his wife. He has to bring the eSkwela Center to the OSYAs of San Fernando.

Before his return trip, he swung by the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT), where the eSkwela Project holds office, and sought assistance on how to set-up their own eSkwela. After meeting the eSkwela Project Team, Jack was now armed with the initial know-how on the basic setup requirements; he could not wait to share the concept of eSkwela to his wife as he headed back home.

Laptops instead of desktops

Upon bringing the news on eSkwela to his wife, who by then was equally interested to it, they have drawn up initial eSkwela setup plans - and realized that a mobile version of eSkwela would better serve the highland and coastal barangays of San Fernando. This was also recommended by CICT upon consulting with the eSkwela Project Team, who made recommendations on its infrastructure and technical requirements. Afterwards, the couple were on their way in figuring out where to get the laptop units for eSkwela.

Jack presented the idea to San Fernando Mayor Fermin Mabulo, who made no hesitation in throwing his support to the initiative, having been involved in ALS programs for indigenous peoples before entering politics. Mayor Mabulo immediately facilitated the request for the needed equipment.

Although they have secured the mayor’s support, local partisan politics made the request process more difficult than it should have been. They were only able to acquire two laptops in their initial request, barely enough to service one barangay. Nevertheless, by December of last year, they were able to test the eSkwela model and conduct demos to municipal officials – with the hope that they will see the benefits and opportunities eSkwela can bring to the OSYAs.

eSkwela Conference and CICT’s site visit

The couple found additional motivation to overcome the hurdles in their eSkwela implementation by receiving an invitation to CICT’s eSkwela Conference, having championed the project in their community. Held last April in Batangas, the Conference was a gathering of individuals and groups who are involved in eSkwela’s different project components. There they were able to interact with the other participants – LGUs, local DepED offices, civic, church and non-government organizations - who also share the same commitment and face the same challenges. The Conference’s forums, talks and workshops were all geared towards helping the project stakeholders work in synergy. As their conference output, Jack and Rose helped prepare an eSkwela strategic plan not only for their Center but also for their province the rest of the Bicol Region. But first things first, though – Jack and Rose had to start with San Fernando before they go beyond it.

Throughout the next three months, the couple and three DepED-Camarines Sur ALS mobile teachers / instructional managers – Lleza Orias, Helen Tunay, and Merly Lleva – underwent CICT’s training on the eSkwela Instructional Model. Through this training, they have also prepared the personnel requirements of an eSkwela Center, while waiting for their infrastructure requirements to be addressed. While it seemed that their request for equipment was falling on deaf ears, CICT made a timely intervention by conducting a field visit to Camarines Sur. The bottleneck that was partisan politics was partially remedied, and three more laptop units were issued to the proposed eSkwela Center – bringing the total units to five.

With the staff and equipment now ready, they can move on to the next step of conducting the eSkwela learning sessions.

eSkwela in San Fernando – and beyond

On June 29, the eSkwela Center of San Fernando formally started its operations. Not only is it the first eSkwela center in Camarines Sur and in the entire Bicol region, it is also the first to adapt the mobile model. Serving the OSYAs in an initial eight barangays (Buenavista, Del Pilar, Beberon, Lupi, Bocal, Pamukid, Planza, Sta. Cruz), the couple and the three ALS implementers are now full-fledged eSkwela learning facilitators and are able to optimally use the computers as a tool for learning. They have organized a schedule to cover each of the eight barangays. The LGU’s multicab is being used to transport the laptops from one barangay to another. In turn, the barangays chip in by providing for the electricity and a shaded or enclosed area as a stop-over station for the mobile eSkwela Center. While Internet service has yet to be made available in these remote barangays, they plan to hold some of the eSkwela sessions at the municipal hall’s premises in order to take advantage of the available Wi-Fi Internet connection. A wireless Internet broadband USB receiver will also be purchased so the laptops will have access to the Internet without leaving the barangays.

eSkwela San Fernando aims to serve ninety OSYAs for its inaugural year. While waiting for the additional laptops, the couple is currently busy engaging the rest of San Fernando and Camarines Sur to replicate the eSkwela model. They are now coordinating with CICT, DepED-BALS and its division office, the LGUs of San Fernando and Camarines Sur for the conduct of an eSkwela teacher training workshop in September, which will be participated in by seven potential eSkwela Centers in the province. They have also facilitated meetings with three public high schools in Lupi, San Fernando and Pamukid, eyeing the possibility of integrating eSkwela and sharing its computer labs to OSYAs.

Jack and Rose Olitoquit hopes that they have given the OSYAs enough reason to stay on as ALS learners through the technology-infused alternative learning at the eSkwela Center, and by gaining life skills or at most a secondary-level education, give them a chance to break the vicious cycle of poverty.

Which for Jack, is not too bad a bonus in what started out as his search for a plastic disc.

The eSkwela Project, a word play on the Filipino equivalent of "school", is a flagship project of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) through its Human Capital Development Group (HCDG), in partnership with DepED – Bureau of Alternative Learning System (BALS) and local community partners, that is envisioned to provide ICT-enhanced educational opportunities for Filipino out-of-school youth and adults. It likewise aims to help reduce the digital divide and enhance the capacity of these individuals to be successful participants in a global and knowledge-based economy. The initiative responds directly to a national development priority and will bring elearning opportunities and ICT for learning resources to mobile teachers / instructional managers and out-of-school learners in the Philippines in an exciting, innovative, and locally meaningful way.

For further inquiries, you may send an email to or contact the eSkwela Project Management Office at +6329286105 local 21/22.