Senator Win Gatchalian has filed a bill that seeks to establish the Philippine Online Library, which will give elementary and secondary learners free and undisrupted access to digitized copies of textbooks and learning materials.
Under Senate Bill No. 477 or the Philippine Online Library Act, the Department of Education (DepEd) is mandated to create digitized copies of all textbooks and reference books it deems necessary for the public education of our elementary and secondary learners. These will be compiled in the proposed Philippine Online Library, which shall be jointly managed by the DepEd and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). The DepEd and the National Library of the Philippines shall have joint custodies over the digitized copies of textbooks.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education cited the role of digital education tools to ensure learning continuity and help bridge learning gaps created by school disruptions.
“While we return to face-to-face classes, our public libraries, one of the country’s pathways to educational resources, should remain pandemic-proof – ubiquitous and accessible – regardless of the geographical location and type of device used by the learners,” Gatchalian said.
The lawmaker cited a 2021 World Bank report, which showed that in a commissioned survey of low-income households, 95.5% used paper-based learning modules and materials when remote learning was implemented amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
To ensure access to digitized copies of textbooks, the DepEd shall provide computers, laptops, and other appropriate devices to all public elementary and secondary schools nationwide. On the other hand, the DICT shall provide free, reliable, and secure internet access to all public elementary and secondary schools pursuant to Republic Act No. 10929 or the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act.
According to a report by UNICEF and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), high, low, and no-tech innovations can be beneficial as schools reopen for mitigating learning losses and provide new resources and learning materials to reach the most marginalized children.
“Bahagi ng pagsulong natin sa digital transformation sa sektor ng edukasyon ang ating mga aklatan. Sa pamamagitan ng panukala nating Philippine Online Library, hindi lamang natin matitiyak ang pagpapatuloy ng edukasyon, matitiyak din natin na ang ating mga mag-aaral ay magkakaroon ng access sa mga dekalidad na aklat at mga learning materials,” said Gatchalian.