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.