We in the city government of Manila are thankful to God and so glad that our goal of providing one tablet per household in the entire city had been met in no time.
The recipients are students from the city’s public elementary and high schools or those from Kindergarten to Grade 12, to aid them as the educational system transitions to the blended, distant learning scheme under the continuing pandemic.
The gadgets come with free SIM cards that would be loaded with 10gb every month and are being lent to the students who will have to return them eventually, so that other students may be able to use them, too.
The city government of Manila purchased a total of 137,210 tablets for the students, along with 11,000 laptops for teachers who were also given free pocket Wi-Fi units.
This, we made in response to a call by the Department of Education (DepEd) several months ago, for local government units to adapt to blended, distant learning.
My only request is that no one should attempt selling or making a profit out of the free tablets that were distributed to the public school students in the city, in time for the opening of online classes. This call is for the parents, guardians, and even the students themselves.
The local government will definitely run after those who will sell or pawn these units and those who will buy the devices, since these gadgets are considered government property, having been bought out of some ₱900 million drawn from the city funds.
Too, I issued an urgent appeal to parents or guardians against trying to get more than what is allotted, which is one tablet per household, as per the recommendation made by Manila Division of City Schools Superintendent Dr. Maria Magdalena Lim.
There is no certainty as to how long the pandemic will last. So, we are hoping that once a student graduates, others after him or her may also benefit from the gadget that the city lent to them. Attempting to get more than what is allotted will not escape the watchful eyes of the city government, since all necessary and thorough verification will be made.
I hope that all will follow the basic rule which is one per household only, so that we in the city government may be able to embrace more students. I am appealing for everyone to extend utmost understanding and compassion so that no student will be left behind specially in this pandemic. Granting that you succeed in getting more than one tablet, bear in mind that one household with at least one student in it will be deprived of a learning device because you got more than your share. While you profit, others will have to suffer.
Parents who have queries about the system of distribution of tablets may ask the parents-teachers’ associations (PTA) or school authorities in order to get the correct explanation, instead of catering to rumors or hearsay.
Based on the average of three students per family, all that the city government needed to buy was a total of 90,000 tablets. However, we decided to purchase more in order to embrace as many as possible and ease the fears of parents that their kids may be left out.
While the tablets may be shared, the accompanying 10gb Internet connection for one month will be on a per-student basis.
I also assure late enrolees numbering 27,000 that they, too, will be given the free tablets. However, since they enrolled late and the original purchase was done way back, they will receive their tablets late, too.
I hope that the efforts of the city government would really help Manila’s students and teachers cope with the “new normal” as far as classes are concerned.
We are fully aware that both the teachers and students would need gadgets to aid them and that this would not be easily affordable to all of them, which is why we decided to extend much-needed support.
Now since these gadgets will be passed on to the next batch of students, we expect those who will be using them now to take good care of the units and bear in mind that many others will be using them too in the future.
When I was a very poor student, I never had even a single pad paper and merely relied on the goodness of my classmates who were willing to spare me one each time we needed it. I really wish that our students will treasure these gadgets and the efforts of their city government to reach out and aid them in things that are not easily affordable.
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Gaya ng paulit-ulit kong sinasabi, kailangan ko ang tulong ninyong lahat. Walang magmamalasakit sa Maynila kundi tayo ding mga Batang Maynila. Manila, God first!
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For updates on latest developments in the city of Manila, please visit my Facebook account — ‘Isko Moreno Domagoso.’