CLAIMING that education is a great equalizer between the rich and the poor, PROMDI presidential aspirant Sen. Manny Pacquiao today vowed to pursue a “one student, one gadget” program to create equal opportunities for poor students who can hardly keep up with the demands of the “new normal” in the country’s educational system.
Pacquiao also raised the need to attune the country’s educational system to the possibility of prolonged restrictions for face-to-face classes and urged the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to create long-term plans on the use of modular and digital platforms as the mode of instructions.
And to ensure that even the poor can have equal access to education, Pacquiao said the government must ensure that they are not left behind by providing them the assistance that they sorely need.
Pacquiao said that a very important component for the poor to be able to cope up with the demands of the “new normal” is the gadgets that they can use for online classes.
The world’s only eight-division boxing champion said he is determined to provide poor Filipinos all the support that they need to get an education because he knows all too well how difficult it is to be educated and said that he was forced to quit school and train as a boxer because of extreme poverty.
“I think that we have to be ready for prolonged limited face-to-face classes. Hindi pa talaga natin matitiyak kung hanggang kailan itong pandemya at ang kawawa dito ay ang mga kababayan nating mahihirap. Alam na alam ko ang pinagdadaanan ng mga mahihirap nating kabataan na gustong mag-aral pero wala silang magawa dahil sa kahirapan. Dyan ako galing kaya gagawan ko talaga ng paraan para hindi nila maranasan ang aking mga pinagdaanan,” Pacquiao said.
“We will provide every student their own devices to use for their online classes. If possible, we will also look into providing free internet connectivity to marginalized communities to use for online learning. Kailangan nating ipaglaban ito upang manalo naman ang mga mahihirap,” Pacquiao said.
He said that this is not impossible if the gadgets will be funded by government savings from corruption which is estimated at P700 Billion to P1 Trillion a year. Money can also come from savings generated by trimming the fat in the bureaucracy and from intelligence and confidential funds.
“Napakadami nating mga overpaid na mga bureaucrats pero kunti lang naman ang ambag sa bayan. Sa halip na gastusin ang pera ng bayan para sa kaning sweldo, mas maigi siguro na gamitin na lang natin para makatulong sa mga mahihirap nating mga mag-aaral,” Pacquiao said.
Pacquiao said that he would also push for Public-Private Partnerships with telecommunications companies to expand and improve the country’s internet system. He said that this PPP program can include future projects by the newly created Philippine Space Agency that would allow the country to launch its own communications satellite.
At present, the Philippines only has its microsatellites that were designed only for research and weather monitoring.