As the country observes the Library and Information Services Month this November, Senator Win Gatchalian is pushing for the creation of the Philippine Online Library to ensure that learning materials remain pandemic-proof.
Gatchalian proposed the creation of the Philippine Online Library in Senate Bill No. 477 or the Philippine Online Library Act. Under the proposed measure, the Department of Education (DepEd) shall create a digital copy of all textbooks and reference books it deems necessary for public education. These books shall be compiled in the Philippine Online Library, which shall be jointly managed by the DepEd and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).
To complement the Philippine Online Library, the proposed measure also allows the DepEd to utilize additional materials from the National Library of the Philippines, which should be representative of Filipino culture and literature. The DepEd shall also be allowed to add other materials it deems necessary for expanding learning opportunities.
Gatchalian recalled learners’ dependence on printed modules when distance learning was implemented because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, a commissioned survey by the World Bank on low-income households revealed that 95.5% used paper-based learning modules and materials despite the availability of digital learning materials and platforms such as the DepEd Commons.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education also pointed to the role of digital education tools in helping learners catch up and bridge learning gaps caused by school disruptions. By making libraries pandemic-proof, learners can access a broader range of textbooks and materials, while teachers can reach out to marginalized learners, Gatchalian added.
“Sa Philippine Online Library, matitiyak natin na magkakaroon ang mga mag-aaral at mga guro ng access sa mas maraming mga aklat. Sa ganitong paraan, matitiyak natin na magpapatuloy ang edukasyon makaranas man tayo ng kalamidad o mga sakuna,” said Gatchalian.