SSP News

Smart supports ‘One Laptop Per Child’ program

Smart Schools Program

Posted on Monday, October 17, 2011

A pioneering initiative to provide a laptop to help empower every child on Lubang Island in the province of Occidental Mindoro has gained more support from the private sector.

Representatives of wireless leader Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) joined the turnover ceremonies recently held to mark the second phase of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative of the Municipality of Lubang in Occ. Mindoro.

Initiated and driven by Lubang Mayor Juan M. Sanchez, the OLPC program in the municipality started in 2010, when 100 ‘XO’ laptops were given to Grade 4 students of pilot schools Lubang Integrated School and Maligaya Elementary School -- becoming the first OLPC adoption in Southeast Asia.

Lubang’s distance from the more progressive areas of the country also makes its OLPC initiative an exceptional one. The area is accessible only via a six-hour journey from Manila’s Pier 12 on board one of Moreta Shipping Lines’ once-weekly trips. Another way to get to Lubang is via a 2.5-hour journey via motorized commuter boat from Calatagan, Batangas. 

 “You may ask, why Lubang? It is because we believe that it does not matter how poor or remote or seemingly insignificant a place is, as long as its people have determination, then opportunities will come,” said Mayor Sanchez, during the ceremonies held at Lubang’s poblacion plaza and graced by Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile.

 “The laptop that we provide to assist in the education of the children of Lubang will allow them to become ‘champions’ someday. Our dream is for the next world-class computer genius to come from Lubang,” added Mayor Sanchez. 

The OLPC program started in 2007, led by a Delaware, USA-based, non-profit organization of faculty members from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, “to empower the world's poorest children through education, by providing them with rugged, low-cost, low-power and connected laptops,” according to the program website

Now on its second year, Lubang’s OLPC project has provided 110 laptops to another generation of Grade 4 students in the same pilot schools, while last year’s recipients – now computer-savvy -- move on to the fifth grade toting their XO laptop.

According to Ermelita Villar, elementary principal of OLPC pilot school Lubang Integrated School, “the laptop has given our students much-needed computer-literacy, and since they are able to bring it home with them after class, even their parents and siblings now know how to use a computer.”

At the OLPC ceremonies, Smart also turned over several sets of desktop computers and printers to Lubang Integrated School, to beef up the school’s computer curriculum and help promote the goals of the OLPC. Smart, represented by Public Affairs Group head Ramon Isberto, also formalized at the same event the adoption of the Lubang Integrated School into the telco’s Smart Schools Program (SSP).

SSP is Smart’s flagship community service initiative that promotes the integration of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in basic education through partnerships with public schools, its officials and parent-teacher-community associations (PTCAs).

As an adopted Smart School, Lubang Integrated School will also receive access or connectivity solutions, online educational content, and teacher training on ICT. These benefits are envisioned to help prepare the school, and the community of Lubang in general, as they become more connected and empowered in line with the LGU’s OLPC vision.

“Our support for the likes of the Municipality of Lubang’s OLPC initiative is a key component of our ‘Internet for All’ advocacy, through which we aim to bring the benefits of the Internet to more Filipinos in more places at the quickest possible time,” said Isberto.

For every child, a laptop. For every nation, a future. A student-beneficiary of the Municipality of Lubang’s
pioneering One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative shows Smart’s head of Public Affairs Ramon R. Isberto
how exercises and homework are sent wirelessly to their XO laptop by the class adviser.

Access, content, and training for all. To help support the objectives of the Municipality of Lubang’s pioneering OLPC initiative,
pilot institution Lubang Integrated School is now also part of Smart Schools Program. Photo shows (L-R) Wilfredo Cabral,
Division Superintendent of the Department of Education for Occ. Mindoro; Ermelita Villar, elementary principal of Lubang Integrated School;
Ramon Isberto, head of Smart’s Public Affairs Group; and Darwin Flores, head of community partnerships at Smart.

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