Monday, October 20, 2008

eSkwela ICT camp

I have always been interested in the use of information and communications technology (ICT) for teaching and learning. I have always believed in its potential to make learning more relevant, innovative, fun and exciting for learners.

I'm glad that through the eSkwela project I have been able to organize an activity where ICT can be used creatively and innovatively. It is somehow reminiscent of my old job, and of the activities that I used to do there. We're trying to do a similar activity, but in a much smaller scale. Nonetheless, I hope it will be as fun and exciting.

The eSkwela project targets the use of ICT for creating projects in the form of desktop publications, websites, videos, photo albums, etc. It is part of eSkwela's overall pedagogical approach of teaching and learning. At the ICT camp, participating learners and instructional managers from the eSkwela centers will be trained in the effective use of computers, the Internet and open source software as tools for learning, design and collaboration. At the ICT camp, participants will be studying e-Learning modules and deepen their learning through the creation of ICT-based projects.

For more information about the ICT camp, you may visit

For more information about the eSkwela project, you may visit

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Kwelang eSkwela in Bulacan

Located on the second floor of Muzon public market in San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan is a spacious, air-conditioned room, which, during weekdays, is filled with youths and adults. The room can pass off as a big internet cafe sans noisy multiplayer video game users for computer stations are all lined up against the wall. On the wall in front are pictures, news letter cutouts and a calendar, all these typical of a backside of a regular classroom. The room is, in fact, a classroom, catering up to 20 learners every day. It is not a computer class, though. Learners here learn about math, science, communication, and other topics offered by any regular school – using a computer.

Self paced learning

Forty eight year old Rodolfo Robo sits between two male young learners, both of whom can pass off as his children. After studying a module on food preparation – one of the many modules that can be easily accessed by learners on their computers - Robo answered a post test, probing what he learned after an hour or so of self-paced learning. Instructional manager Czarina Borromeo, seated on her own computer station, checks her learners’ tests, including Robo’s, after they finish. Borromeo then tells Robo how he’s faring in the test, as well as his errors, even in spelling.

Back to school

A tanod head, Robo decided to enroll in the said class to refresh what he has learned in school. As a barangay officer, Robo actually encourages out-of-school youths and adults in his commpunity to enroll in eSkwela. Robo said that it is never too late to finish one’s studies. His classmates Emily Mallari, 31, Flordeliza Dabuet, 36, and Sherilyn Guantero, 20, do agree. Mallari and Dabuet both dropped out of high school. Guantero, on the other hand, only finished fourth grade. For these women, even with marriage and children, enrolling in eSkwela can help them achieve their goals, such as obtaining a diploma, getting into college, and as simple as helping their school aged kids with their homeworks.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Jenelyn Baylon - Bato Balani Teacher Awardee

Jenelyn Baylon, an ALS implementer in Naujan, Mindoro Oriental, is one of the four recipients in this year's Bato Balani Foundation's "Many Faces of the Teacher" Awards. Jen is one of our ALS(60) Content Development Reviewers. She was also an active participant in the Trainers' Training for the eSkwela Teacher Training Course held early this year. She has become a staunch supporter of eSkwela in Mindoro Oriental, pushing for the project's implementation through local community support.

Congratulations Jen, from the the entire eSkwela family!

Excerpt from Bato Balani's blog:

"Jenelyn Baylon is a Mobile teacher from Naujan, Oriental Mindoro. She travels distances to reach her students and as with all mobile teachers, they handle multi-level and multi-grade students and classes."

Excerpt from (Eureka! article entitled "Teacher heroes get the accolade they deserve" by Queena Lee, posted 9/22/2008)

Motorcycle teacher

Following in the footsteps of Fr. Dinter is Jenelyn Baylon, who rides her motorcycle for hours (even when pregnant) to reach Mangyan communities. Fording mountains and streams, Baylon brings much-needed resources to the tribes, such as cell phones and modern tools.

She conducts night sessions on basic and functional literacy for out-of-school youths and adult learners. She trains them on cell phone repair, electric arc welding, recycling. She initiated the Barangay Solid Waste Management Council and Materials Recovery Facilities for the Mangyans.

Baylon’s goal is to help the Mangyans raise their heads high. She discusses with them the Indigenous People’s Rights Act, and teaches them to be proud of their heritage.

Excerpt from GMANews.TV ("Four 'Faces' of teaching honored in Pasay Cityby Mark Meruenas, posted 9/28/2008):

Mobile teacher

Passion and commitment are the exact same reasons why “mobile teacher" Jenelyn Baylon, the first awardee, is staying on the profession, despite having to brave rugged roads on a motorcycle in her native Mindoro just to hold house-to-house class sessions.

Iyong mga kabataan na hindi na tinatanggap sa loob ng paaralan, iyon ang minamahal namin," said Baylon, whose “Alternative Learning System" curriculum ranges from solid waste management to the Indigenous Human Rights Act.

(Those out-of-school youths are dear to us.)

Being the youngest among this year’s awardees, Baylon, named at the event as “The Face of Patience," told GMANews.TV she was surprised she even got selected as a nominee, much less an honoree.

Kanina, noong tinawag ako sa taas. Parang totoo ba ito? Eh maraming napakatanda na dapat sila muna (When they called me out on stage, I couldn’t believe it. I am so young and there are veteran teachers who are more deserving)," Baylon said.

However, she said she would use her recognition to encourage other “mobile teachers" to forgo plans to leave the profession.

So much is her dedication to work that even her pregnancy did not deter Baylon, a mother of one, from extending education to out-of-school youths.

Hindi na sila tambay. Ngayon may iba sa kanila, nasa abroad na. Buhay at pagkatao ang aming naaayos (They are no longer idle. Some of them went abroad. We are helping them put their lives and well-being in order)," Baylon proudly said.

Raising Awareness for the eSkwela Project

Raising Awareness on eLearning

Actual Experience: eSkwela Project, Philippines

Contribution of Maria Melizza “Mel” Tan (eSkwela Project Manager)

to the eLDI 2008 November eJounrnal

The eSkwela Project aims to provide eLearning opportunities to Filipino out-of-school youth and adults who would like to finish their basic education. It is a flagship project of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT), in partnership with the Department of Education’s Bureau of Alternative Learning System (DepEd-BALS).

The project covers various components including community-based center set-up and sustainability through community partnership, content and applications development, technical support, personnel training (for operations and instruction), and regular monitoring and evaluation. Starting out with four (4) pilot sites in major urban centers in early 2007, the project is currently on its rollout phase – slowly but surely gaining the desired attention and support from various stakeholders.

Raising public awareness for the project has not been easy, especially since the main focus of ICT in Education initiatives in the country has been on formal education, specifically public high schools. As such, the project team saw the need to ensure that the pilot run had a high probability of success by putting in place the following contributory factors:

  • A good project design that used a multi-stakeholder collaborative approach

Selling this project to implementers and sponsors required that it had a sound design that looked into feasibility and sustainability as well. For this kind of community-based initiatives to succeed, it was also important to continually collaborate with various community stakeholders including the local government unit, the local education implementers, and related civic groups.

  • Strong project champions

No matter how good a project design is, it would never fly if there are no advocates who will champion it to the stakeholders and the general public. For the eSkwela Project, CICT’s strategic leadership and dedicated project team, coupled with the strong support from DepEd-BALS, were crucial in convincing community stakeholders to invest on the project.

  • Well-trained and empowered implementers

The eSkwela Project continues to rely on the centers’ field implementers for its successful execution. They have undergone training on the ICT-based instructional model that serves as the core component of the project. Since they serve as the frontliners, they have been encouraged to research, experiment, recommend, and train others on potential project enhancements. This sense of local ownership contributes to their dedication to reflective project enhancement and sustainability.

With these factors in place, the project team has undertaken the following activities to raise and sustain project awareness:

  • Social Marketing activities

The project team conducts several meetings and presentations that target community awareness and stakeholders’ mobilization where discussions focus on the project implementation details, roles/responsibilities of stakeholders, handholding requirements, and other pertinent items. Stakeholders appreciate the fact that immediate and future benefits are enumerated, especially learner pathing beyond eSkwela – such as readiness for the Accreditation and Equivalency Exam, tie-up with local livelihood training centers, among others.

The team also recognizes the need to “walk the talk” by using ICTs to reach out to the public via the project wiki (, discussion forums, blogs, emails, video campaigns, and other communication/ collaboration tools; by engaging in and conducting various ICT4E initiatives like conferences, various elearning courses, and similar efforts geared toward further enhancing the project.

  • Regular conduct of monitoring and evaluation activities

The team makes it a point to provide regular presence in the sites through site visits and constant communication aimed at continuous and timely project enhancement. Through such activities, field implementers see that the team is indeed serious about making things work and that the project is not a “fly-by-night” operation. This deepens the level of awareness and understanding of the project for both the team and the local stakeholders –“making them believe” in the project and consequently, take pride in as well as promote the project to their communities.

  • Activities that value collaboration among project partners

Field implementers and other project stakeholders (i.e. DepEd-BALS, local government units, civic groups, ICT4E consultants, and content development teams that CICT has contracted) are regularly invited to get involved in efforts that look into project enhancements and sustainability. This is done through the conduct of project conferences and workshops that either a) ask them to provide feedback/insights to project plans and tools, b) train them on required competencies, or c) guide them through project evaluation and strategic planning.

This sense of belongingness in the project community propels these stakeholders to promote the project to other groups – professionals, students, potential sponsors – through the talks, presentations, and meetings that they attend thus providing the project additional mileage.

As can be seen, a project can attain the desired level of awareness and support by taking care of the network of advocates, implementers, and stakeholders that is built in the course of a project’s life. With this in place, a project has greater chances for success and prolonged sustainability.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

eSkwela soon to open in Zamboanga City

Press Release posted on the PhilCeCNet website:

eSkwela LogoOut-of-School Youth and adults (OSYAs) in Zamboanga City can now earn a high school diploma through the eSkwela.

A project dedicated to providing ICT-enhanced educational opportunities for Filipino out-of-school youth and adults, eSkwela aims to help reduce the local digital divide and enhance the capacity of OSYAs to be successful participants in the global, knowledge-based economy.

The project is implemented by the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT), in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd), to help address the problem of high dropout rates at the secondary school level.

Among the benefits of eSkwela compared to the traditional school is the blended type of learner-centered instruction where students will have an hour of computer-aided learning via interactive e-learning modules and an additional hour of teacher-led instruction as based on the current needs of learners.

The local eSkwela will be opened on September 24, 2008 and will be housed at the Community eCenter (CeC) of the NCC-Field Operations Office in Tumaga, Zamboanga City. The effort was made possible thru the partnership of the National Computer Center-Field Operations Office (NCC-FOO) and the regional division of DepEd - Alternative Learning System. Director Tess Camba of NCC-FOO, who championed the setting up of eSkwela in the city said that eventually more CeCs in the country will be eSkwela centers as well.

In addition to the provision of space requirements, NCC-FOO will also provide computer units, electricity and Internet connectivity, while DepEd will ensure the availability of mobile teachers and instructional managers as well as the selection of learner recipients.

Seventeen (17) teachers are currently undergoing a two-day training on Open Office. Thirty (30) out-of-school youth will also undergo a two-day training on basic computer usage and applications prior to their actual classes using the eSkwela modules.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

eSkwela-QC reports during the National ICT in Basic Education Congress

Congratulations to FIT-ED, DepEd, and UPOU for holding the 3rd National ICT in Basic Education Congress last Sept. 10-11, 2008. It was well-organized and very informative. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to network with and learn from fellow ICT4E advocates and implementers.

The eSkwela Project team would like to congratulate Mr. Johnny Obierna and Ms. Irene Barzaga of the Quezon City site for presenting their eSkwela-QC experience in one of the breakout sessions during the Congress. [Photos and presentation file to be uploaded at a later time.] The pair talked about their experiences in implementing the eSkwela Project - including positive accounts as well as barriers/challenges encountered and actions taken. They showed a sample module (Safety in the Workplace) as well as some learner outputs (blogs, forum entries, etc.).

It is heartwarming to note that the eSkwela learners (combined site-based and school-affiliated) performed better (59.48% passing rate) than the the average QC and NCR A&E takers (30.19% and 32.43% passing rate respectively). We are still consolidating the comparative figures for the other sites, but they have reported their passing rates as follows:
  • CDO: 73.42%
  • Cebu: 73.24%
  • SJDM: 27.78%
These figures are significantly higher than the conservative estimate of 20% passing rate by the site implementers during the 2007 eSkwela Conference held at DAP Tagaytay. A cause for celebration indeed. The CDO site has even given CICT a Plaque of Appreciation to commemorate the achievement.

We hope that these positive outcomes will continue, especially since the national government has invested heavily on a number of highly improved elearning modules (due to come out by late 2008/early 2009), a more robust Learning Management System (to be out by Q1 2009 hopefully), and a more systematic eSwela personnel training program (for the instructional managers, center managers, and network administrators - still in the design/pilot phase).

In close coordination with BALS and eSkwela's pool of dedicated impelmenters, we are closely monitoring the sites and assessing the project's effectiveness to continually enhance the model. In line with this, we have lined up activities and studies that will look into the actual impact of ICTs in the implementation of the A&E Program soon, under the guidance of our expert ICT4E consultants.

With this, we invite interested stakeholders to join us in promoting and bringing the project to your respective communities and bring basic education to more Filipinos.

We are aware that the project model is far from perfect. We foresee that the project model will mature in about 2 to 3 years - there are still a lot of birth pains and adjustments going on. But we enjoin you to work with us, learn with us, and grow with us as we make ICTs work for the Filipino people.

Giving Something Back

Back when I was still a teacher at Ateneo High School, I'd always advise my students to get their degrees, find a fulfilling job, be good partners, raise wonderful children, and...give something back to the country. Blame Ateneo for molding me to think this way. :)

I have been fortunate to be exposed to numerous people who have selflessly given back to the country. For those involved in the eSkwela Project in particular, I salute the following for "giving back":
  • the mobile teachers and instructional managers who have selflessly gone beyond the minimum to educate their learners (wherever they are) and look after their welfare
  • the center and lab managers who have gone out of their way to ensure the centers' sustainability
  • the instructional designers and content developers who have tirelessly worked on instructionally sound, interactive elearning modules
  • the SUC project managers who have been passionately working with us and have stuck it out despite all the challenges
  • the project consultants who have patiently and wholeheartedly shared their invaluable expertise and precious time
  • the project team for hanging in there

To give and not to count the cost. To toil and ask not for reward.

Thank you for believing in the project.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Team to Beat!

eSkwela has a great project team! Coupled with dedicated partners, this makes my role as the project manager a lot more manageable. True, the project has a long way to go - with all the possibilities and opportunities to enhance its design and widen its reach. But with such a great team working on the project, it makes the task less daunting.

I'm so happy with the recently concluded eSkwela Team Action Planning because the team members showed that they have really internalized their respective roles and responsibilities - admittedly, with much room to grow. We do have our numerous ups and downs, accomplishments and challenges, successes and frustrations - but hey! we're definitely making progress.

One thing I love about the group is that we're not afraid to learn from external experts and from each other - no airs, no hang-ups. What matters is we're constantly on the lookout to make the project work. And yes, we do know how to have fun in our own simple ways (sweldong gobyerno po...heheh!).

Para sa Bayan ito - go eSkwela Team! =D

And to all the eSkwela partners and collaborators - I'd just like to reiterate that the project won't survive without you...thank you for being there.

Ever so grateful,

P.S. I have yet to get a good team photo to post, so bear with this one for now...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The ADSOC Experience

Advocacy and Social Mobilization (ADSOC) is part of the duties of a mobile teacher of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) of the Department of Education. ADSOC activities are comprised of, but not limited to, determining the literacy profile of the community and gathering community data on the number of out-of-school youth and adults. The data gathered from these activities will help determine the targeted clientele of ALS.
I joined Angie and Irene, mobile teachers of Quezon City, in their ADSOC activity. We were tasked to go to Barangay Masagana in Project 4. Before even doing house to house visits, we had to do a courtesy call to the Chairman of Barangay Masagana. The chairman was not around, but we were met by Kagawad Ohm Aquino. Barangay Masagana had only a few ALS enrollees, and this is no different from the other barangays in Project 4. Project 4 is one of the wealthier communities in Quezon City. All ALS learners in Project 4 are enrolled in the ALS Center of Kalantiaw Elementary School. So we ended up going around Project 4. We talked to an Instructional Manager at the ALS Center at Kalantiaw ES, and told us that they have about 60 learners at the center. We also visited Barangay Socorro, since we were told that there were computers at their barangay. We proposed the possibility of putting up an eSkwela center at their barangay, but we were told that we'd have to ask the permission of the Veterans Freedom Party, who happen to be the owners of the computer. I just left my contact number with them, in case there is a possibility of a partnership. We also tried to get in touch with the chairman of Barangay UP Village, since we were told that he is also interested in setting up an eSkwela center in their barangay.

Overall, this first attempt by Angie and I to engage in ADSOC (Irene is the more experienced mobile teacher) was a fruitful learning experience.

Here are the pictures of our ADSOC experience:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Welcome to the eSkwela Blog

Hello, welcome to the eSkwela Blog. Here you can read up on recent developments related to the eSkwela Project - in blog fashion. Every now and then, do expect a stream of unadulterated and less structured ideas and thoughts from the Project Team as they go through the task of establishing eSkwela Centers all over the archipelago. Be it on eSkwela's project management, content development, community mobilization, teacher training, monitoring and evaluation, ICT use - you will find it here at The eSkwela Blog.

I apologize for the rather straightforward name of our blog. We will make it up on the content.

We do hope that by maintaining this blog, the eSkwela Project Team can share the skill and experience it has and will inevitably acquire, and will be a well of creative ideas to educators, government/NGO/development workers, project implementers, ICT and e-learning advocates, and YOU.

For starters, below is the textbook definition of eSkwela:

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), that is envisioned to provide ICT-enhanced educational opportunities for Filipino out-of-school-youth and adults. The initiative responds directly to a national development priority and will bring e-learning 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.