The start of the Philippine lock down was at the beginning of the last quarter examinations for Philippine schools. Students were informed that due to the Coivd-19 pandemic, schools would close until further notice. On May 26th 2020 President Rodrigo Roa Duerte announced that children will not be allowed to return to school until a coronavirus vaccine is available, which most experts predict will be readily available for low risk persons by early 2022. Earlier announcements ordered young people and children 21 years and below to stay in quarantine for 24 hours a day until further notice.
Education is a core programme of PCF and (UFI) and just before the start of the new school year (June 2021/22) the Department of Education (DepEd) announced a four-prong approach to learning.
• Opening schools only in 100% free non covid areas
• Teaching through online learning applications
• Printed materials for students to complete at home
• Radio and T.V broadcasts
With an emphasis for on online learning all students.
PCF knew that we would be entering a difficult time as children would be concerned about their future education. Many of their families survive on a meal to meal basis, mainly eating leftovers from restaurants that are now closed; their biggest challenge would be how to eat and remain safe and coupled together increasing concern how they can successfully complete the 20/21 and 2022 school year without devises to access online learning, PCF are also concerned with their mental health and the effects of being confined in such small spaces for long periods of time.
The provision of smartphone and tablets will not only give children access to learning but will also enable our team of social workers and teachers to stay in regular contact with the children and allow them to use our helpline when they have a problem or need that they are not able to share with their family members.
The tablet will be distributed to students via one of three methods:
• Renting the tablets from UFI – The tablet will be offered to the student at a minimal cost, to ensure it is cared for. The money collected for the rental of the devise will be used to maintain or fix or to purchase additional tablets for incoming students. At the end of the school year, rented tablets will be returned to UFI. The rental will be fixed a price that the family agree they can afford to pay.
• Rent-to-own – this scheme is like renting a tablet as above; however, the student has the option to purchase the tablet via minimal instalments over a long period of time.
• Reward – the tablet can be given to a student by UFI as a reward for exemplary performance during the previous school year.
The PCF team will monitor and manage the distribution of the tablets during our monthly meetings with the students and their parent volunteers. The volunteers will make regular checks to ensure the gadgets are working properly. Any damaged or stolen tablets will be reported to UFI staff. UFI will also monitor the tablets by arranging regular calls to the students. Details of every student who receives a tablet will be processed and recorded.