Falls Church, VA, January 25, 2024 – The Smart Development Institute (SDI), an IRS-approved 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation in Falls Church, VA, USA, in partnership with the Resiliency and Sustainability for Empowerment (RSE) Foundation, a non-profit foundation in Manila, Philippines, is excited to announce a new initiative: the Digital Enablement and Learning (DEAL) Program for Public Schools of targeted 3rd and 4th class Municipalities, in the Philippines.
Our objective is to provide satellite-based Internet access at these public schools to “bridge the digital divide” as well as achieve the following objectives:
Provide high-speed and affordable access to the Internet focused on digital learning;
Promote equity to Internet access to marginalized populations;
Increase capacity of teachers to provide effective and enhanced digital education as well as increase the digital literacy of students; and
Use the schools as channels for improving disaster preparedness capacity of municipalities through improved information dissemination and communication services via the Internet leading to smart city enablement.
The DEAL program sets up an agreement with the Local Government Unit (LGU) and public schools of the municipality where SDI and RSE Foundation will seek funds to sponsor high-speed satellite Internet services for all the public schools of the municipality. The high-speed satellite Internet services include all the hardware and software; installation and testing; plus, a one (1) year paid subscription. Furthermore, as part of the agreement, we require the LGU and/or public schools to assume the responsibility for funding the subscription fees beginning on the second (2nd) year and onwards. A win-win deal for all stakeholders.
The DEAL program is currently being implemented in Minalin, Pampanga and the second target municipality is Lumban, Laguna.
The DEAL initiative augments the on-going Project RISE (Resiliency Improvement Support and Education) of SDI and the RSE Foundation. Project RISE aims to implement disaster preparedness programs in municipalities in the Philippines that are susceptible to various types of disasters such as storms, floods, fires, earthquakes, etc. Project RISE’s intervention program is a two-prong approach through education and technology.
Our RISE education program transforms seafarers or global marine professionals (GMPs) into practitioners for disaster preparedness through our Master Trainer Program (MTP), which is a Train the Trainer program, based on two frameworks: ISO 22301: Business Continuity Management (BCM) and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. Once a GMP becomes a certified Master Trainer, the GMP then conducts our Citizen Training Program (CTP) on target municipalities. As of today, RISE has 788 Master Trainers and has trained 14,066 citizens across nine (9) communities.
Our RISE technology program involves digital transformation through the introduction of a smart mobile app for the community specifically focused on bridging the gap of communication between the LGUs and their citizens. The smart mobile app is powered by SDI’s Smart MoBee mobile development platform and is an effective tool for information dissemination, communication, and
collaboration for the community. However, our technology program is affected negatively by the abysmal Internet services in the Philippines, especially in 3rd and 4th class municipalities, a digital gap or digital divide that we need to address to have an effective technology intervention program.
Scan the QR Code on the right or click on the link below to view the demonstration video of the Minalin Mobile App:
With the recent introduction of high-speed, reliable, and economical satellite Internet services in the Philippines, there is finally a viable solution to bridge the digital divide. SDI and the RSE Foundation initiated the DEAL Initiative on November 26, 2023 and funded a “proof-of-concept” project to provide two Starlink satellite Internet services to two (2) schools in Minalin, Pampanga, a Project RISE community: Sto. Rosario High School and Dawe Elementary School, which is an elementary school with no road infrastructure around it and accessible only by boat from the mainland.
Roberto Llames, President of SDI, attends the official turnover ceremony of a Starlink satellite Internet kit to Sto. Rosario National High School in Minalin on November 28, 2023.
Given that schools play a vital role in disaster relief operations, at times serving as evacuation centers, and many teachers assist with disaster relief operation, we decided to implement the Starlink satellite Internet services at schools to have a primary goal of enhancing digital education and a secondary goal of using the schools as channels for improving disaster-related information dissemination and communication services at the municipal level.
Prior to Starlink, teachers at these schools, in Minalin, had to buy Internet data services through their cell phones to conduct digital instructions which were slow and ineffective. With the introduction of Starlink services, digital education was significantly streamlined. More than 1,000 students and teachers at each of the two schools now have high-speed Internet access that aids in digital learning and addresses other realities of rural education, such as weather alerts impacting their lives, and more.
With the success of the proof-of-concept at the two (2) Minalin schools, SDI has committed to sponsor a Starlink connection for each of the fourteen (14) remaining public schools in Minalin, Pampanga. The Honorable Mayor Naguit of Minalin, in turn, committed to include a line item in the annual budget of the schools to fund the subscription after the first year. A true public-private partnership and the first digital enablement of all public schools in a 4th class municipality in the Philippines.
Roberto Llames, President of SDI, meets with the Honorable Mayor Noel Philip S. Naguit of Minalin on November 28, 2023.
Smart Development Institute