Tuesday, November 22, 2011

DepEd vows to sustain Gilas Internet project

DepEd vows to sustain Gilas Internet project
By Rainier Allan Ronda
The Philippine Star
November 22, 2011

The Department of Education (DepEd) yesterday pledged to sustain the Ayala Foundation-led Gearing Up For Internet Literacy and Access to Students (GILAS) in some 7,200 public high schools nationwide by providing a budget that will allow the schools to pay the monthly connectivity fees.

Education Secretary Armin Luistro made the pledge at the ceremonial handover held at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City by the GILAS consortium.

As of yesterday, the program has provided Internet connection to 4,683 public high schools. Some 2,224 schools are yet to be given Internet connection.

DepEd said that the GILAS program is the first private sector Internet connectivity project to be scaled up by the government.

The GILAS consortium is composed of the Ayala Foundation, Ayala Corp., Ayala-led Globe Telecom, Integrated Micro-electronics, Inc., American Chamber of Commerce, Apple, Bato-Balani Foundation, Bayan, Digitel, GMA-7, HP, IBM, Intel, Makati Business Club, Microsoft, Mitsubishi Corp., Narra Venture Capital, PBSP, Philstar, PLDT-Smart, and SPI.

Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, chairman of the Ayala Foundation and co-chairman of the GILAS consortium, thanked Luistro and DepEd for the move of mainstreaming the GILAS initiative.

“We thank the Department of Education, under the inspiring leadership of Secretary Armin Luistro, for their commitment to finish what we started through its programs for computer distribution and Internet connectivity,” Zobel said.

He said the GILAS project is a model of a successful private-public partnership (PPP) scheme now being pushed by the Aquino administration.

“We believe that this can be a wonderful template for future public-private partnerships in education where the private sector pilots an idea, shows proof of concept, brings it to scale, for the government to complete and mainstream the program,” Zobel said.

Zobel said that they were aware of the formidable challenge they had taken on when they started the GILAS project.

“When we conceived of the GILAS project more than six years ago, it was an exciting, if not an ambitious, proposition. It was certainly a lofty dream for us to bring computers and the Internet to all the Philippine public high schools. This was driven by our desire to broaden Internet access for our students so that through this tool, they can open up to a whole new world of learning and explore its near-limitless potential,” he said.