, FEBRUARY 4, 2007 (STAR) By Rainier Allan Ronda - The Department of Education (DepEd) has expressed optimism over the implementation of the P26.48-billion Cyber Education Program (CEP), following President Arroyo’s endorsement of “cyber education.”

In an interview at the closing of the two-day First Biennial Education Congress last Friday, Education Secretary Jesli Lapus said that Mrs. Arroyo’s declaration that “cyber education” is necessary validated the DepEd’s arguments in pushing for CEP.

“It’s the order of the day. Not necessarily cyber education, but technology,” Lapus said.

In her speech at the congress’ opening, Mrs. Arroyo said the government is “now aiming for distance learning and cyber education.”

“We have installed Internet-linked computers in dozens of public high schools,” the President said.

“We will install at least one linked-computer in every public high school in the rural areas, which will become community centers outside school hours. There was great support for this project among the information technology governors of the World Economic Forum (WEF), including Microsoft and Hewlett Packard.

“In fact it was Hewlett Packard that raised it during our roundtable (discussion), not me,” Mrs. Arroyo said.

Lapus said that the President was obviously encouraged herself on cyber education during her recent trip to Davos, Switzerland to attend the WEF.

However, Lapus said that it is still up to the Presidential Task Force on Education to decide on whether to give the green light to CEP.

“But it’s still with the Presidential Task Force, the evaluation. Pero for her (the President) to say in her speech that it’s desirable, that’s what we’ve been saying all along,” Lapus said.

The task force has commissioned a group of information communications technology (ICT) experts from the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) to review the DepEd’s CEP.

Nebres, president of ADMU, is on leave. He is being temporarily replaced at the task force by acting Commission on Higher Education chairman Romulo Neri, also co-chairman of the task force.

The CEP involves the use of satellite technology to enable to broadcast to about 26,000 public schools in the country 20 to 30-minute recorded lessons given by “master teachers” from DepEd’s “model” schools or centers of excellence.

DepEd said that CEP will also have free Internet connection for covered schools, which can be tapped by the DepEd regional and division offices in their administrative and management systems.

The CEP has been opposed by some sectors because of the huge cost it entails given the shortage of other basic necessities in public schools such as classrooms, desks, chairs, school buildings, and teachers.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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