By KERRY TINGA

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Hundreds of thousands of students in the Philippines are in some sort of education limbo on account of the health crisis. Public policymakers and private institutions are turning to technology to meet the demands and challenges of education in our current climate. In the Philippines, there are merely a handful of enterprises and entrepreneurs who have experience leveraging on the power of modern technologies in the field of education. And we are not just talking about changing blackboards to smart screens or using the Internet for a research project, but rather breaking barriers to education through technological advancements and connectivity.

To understand how technology can fill in the gaps in education, Manila Bulletin Lifestyle talked to Henry Motte-Muñoz, the founder and CEO of Edukasyon.ph, the largest Gen Z platform in the country. The platform started with the vision of breaking down barriers to educational opportunities for Filipinos everywhere through technology and online resources, empowering the youth with information so that they can confidently make major decisions in every area of their student.

For Educational Institutions

During quarantine, Motte-Muñoz and Edukasyon.ph team have observed some positive trends and externalities coming out of the education situation that suggests that educational institutions ought to adapt to a more discerning and digitally savvy student.

“Schools are now forced to digitize. If they do not adapt to online, they will be left behind,” says Motte-Muñoz.

Students of Sto. Domingo National Trade School in Nueva Ecija were all smiles inside their newly-equipped computer laboratory with laptops last Febraury 27, 2020

Students of Sto. Domingo National Trade School in Nueva Ecija were all smiles inside their newly-equipped computer laboratory with laptops last Febraury 27, 2020

Since the beginning of quarantine, Edukasyon.ph has seen more than 300 new colleges and senior high schools using their free, cloud-based service software for their marketing, admissions, and pre-enrolment processes. This makes for more than 700 schools nationwide on their platform.

But Motte-Muñoz believes that is not enough for schools. “We’ve seen a surge of inbound inquiries on our platform since lockdown,” he adds. “We think this means that local education providers will not only have to digitize their offering, but also up their game and convince students that they’re a better option than their competitors, especially now that physical travel and distance won’t matter as much, and pricing will matter much more.”

For Students

“When we think about online education, there are learning management students that enable schools to recreate the digital classroom,” says Motte-Muñoz.

Many private institutions have been releasing news about their branded, online platforms, while even the Department of Education (DepEd) has been touting the innovative DepEd Commons. For the students who are getting used to looking at the Internet and online resources in order to complete their traditional schooling, however, this is just the beginning of an online educational journey through independent online course providers.

Elementary students having a class pre-Covid, file photo from Manila Bulletin

Elementary students having a class pre-Covid

“But there’s also a huge opportunity for independent online courses, from providers like Coursera and FutureLearn,” he adds. “Online education uptake through our platform has grown five times year on year. There are still many issues to address, but we believe interest and engagement with online courses will figure prominently.”

For Government and Partners

“The biggest challenge is reducing barriers to Internet access and we understand why students have voiced concerns about continuing the school year online,” says Motte-Muñoz. “DepEd and TESDA are already adapting to digital, but it will be critical for government to work with telcos to ensure the youth have equal opportunities to online education.”

Looking at his own Edukasyon.ph, he adds, “We ourselves are exploring partnerships with telcos to promote access to Edukasyon.ph to their subscribers. We connect Gen Z to online school applications, online scholarship applications, and online course providers, all on one platform, so we believe it’s a valuable resource, now more than ever.”

DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones

DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones

With his years of experience in the Philippines’ education technology sector, Motte-Muñoz sees the possibilities and potential this transformational shift can have on the country for the better. There is, however, one large obstacle—connectivity. And so, it makes sense that the way to overcome it is through connectivity itself, partnerships and collaborations between public and private institutions and individuals all working toward the common good and the future of the country.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/06/22/students-interrupted/)