Jinggoy bats for ‘digital’ textbooks in public elementary, high schools

(BUSINESS MIRROR) A LAWMAKER is pushing to have all copies of textbooks and reference materials in public elementary and secondary schools digitized.

This, as Senator Jinggoy Estrada is moving to realize the ideal 1:1 textbook-student ratio in public-learning institutions, which for him is facing major delays.

Estrada said in Filipino that having digital copies accessible via the Internet is the only way to address the dearth in printed books.

He earlier pushed for the approval of his proposed Senate Bill (SB) 2075, or the “Philippine Online Library Act,” aimed to establish a web-based portal that will “serve as the repository of all digitized copies of textbooks and reference materials being used by students” in public elementary and secondary levels.

“Making them available online will not only complement the existing physical libraries in schools and local government units around the country, but will also aid both teachers and students—especially those who have utilized various learning modalities,” Estrada explained.

Still, the lawmaker laments that “the insufficient number of textbooks in public schools remains a serious concern; and with the sheer number of students, the achievement of the ideal textbook-to-student ratio is far from realization.”

As such, Estrada notes that the Philippine Online Library can “supplement the required books, especially for students who have Internet connectivity.”

He also reminded that “apart from serving the needs of the students and teachers, this reliable database will be useful [for] present and future generations.”

As provided in Estrada’s SB 2075, the Department of Education (DepEd) is tasked to digitize copies of all textbooks and reference books of students in public elementary and secondary schools.

Such copies, he explained, should be compiled in the proposed national online library, which shall be jointly managed by the DepEd and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

To ensure access, the DepEd will provide computers and laptops to all primary and secondary public schools nationwide, while the DICT will enable “fast and reliable Internet [connections]” to ensure access to the digitized copies.

Recycling of computers, laptops and similar gadgets from all national government agencies, government-owned and controlled corporations and government financial institutions shall be required, Estrada added.

In procuring new computers, the DepEd will endorse their old units to the DICT for examination and if these are found to be still in good condition, these will be distributed to primary and secondary schools nationwide to offset the expenses that will be incurred in procuring the computers and laptops for students.

The DepEd and the National Library of the Philippines would have joint custody over the digitized copies of the textbooks.

An initial amount of P500 million, which will be jointly managed by the DepEd and DICT, is for appropriation by Congress to implement the undertaking.

The amount necessary for the succeeding years shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act or GAA, according to Estrada.