One Tablet, One Student bill to benefit 27M students

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 29) — Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda has again filed a bill seeking to provide tablet computers to public school students for their learning needs.

Speaking to CNN Philippines’ The Source on Friday, Legarda talked about her proposed One Tablet, One Student Act, her first Senate bill in the 19th Congress.

The measure, which she previously filed in the House of Representatives in the 18th Congress, seeks to provide each public school student in elementary, secondary, and state universities and colleges with a tablet computer to help them participate in online classes.

Legarda said before filing the bill, she consulted with the Department of Education about the likely beneficiaries and the impact of the measure.

“I was informed there are 26 million indigent, needy students enrolled in DepEd who may not have their own device. There are 1.6 million state universities and college students who are also in need,” the senator added.

She said based on initial estimate, at least ₱80 billion may have to be allocated for the rollout, but the government could make use of another existing program to address the needs of the learners with whatever budget is available for the meantime.

“Do we need it in one blow? The resources may not be feasible,” she said. “There’s a DepEd Computerization Act (to be implemented) within five years, I believe it must be accelerated in one or two years. Pag kailangan kayang hanapan ng pondo (if it’s really needed, we can find funds for it).”

The DepEd Computerization Program currently has an ₱11.7 billion budget to provide laptops and tablets to learners and teachers to better implement its ICT program.

“During our time we needed pencil, ballpen, and paper to be able work in school. Whether it’s face-to-face, hybrid, or online learning, students need gadgets and this gadget to me is like a lifeline, their oxygen to become students who can have facilities for learning,” Legarda said.

Legarda has also filed three other bills that aim to improve the quality of education in the country. She filed bills instituting a Magna Carta for Public School Teachers and a Magna Carta for Private School Teachers to improve their welfare and working conditions.

Her other bill seeks to upgrade the minimum salaries of public school teachers and personnel to Salary Grade 15, and the teaching personnel in higher education to Salary Grade 16.