Digital Literacy Offers Former Rebels Fresh Window of Opportunities

DAVAO ORIENTALResidents of Davao Oriental’s Happy Home – the country’s first and only halfway house for former rebels, are now even more empowered to improve and transform their lives as they embrace what new technology has to offer through the innovative Tech4Ed Center.

Formally launched on Wednesday, August 15, at the Happy Home in the City of Mati led by the Provincial Government, the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT), the Philippine Army, and other key partners, the Tech4Ed Center is the latest addition to the long list of services being offered at the Happy Home.

Engr. Amelia Dean and PGO Chief of Staff Ednar Dayanghirang led the launching of the Tech4Ed Center at the Happy Home

Solving the Digital Divide

The Tech4Ed is a computer-based educational platform brimming with programs for learning ranging from English competency, financial literacy, farming technologies, and research among many others, explains Engr. Amelia Dean, OIC Regional Operations and Coordination Services of DICT.

“These centers serve as delivery channels of ICT-enabled services and government services to reach rural areas. We are nationwide. We also serve as training hub to educate the public on digital literacy and financial literacy and to raise awareness on the importance of ICT,” she said.

The Tech4Ed also features other services such as facilitation of online jobs and connecting entrepreneurs to reach their markets. With partnership with Business Process Outsourcing companies, the DICT also supports training for individuals to become home-based online call center agents.

She said that amid the digital age wherein technology has a huge effect on the people’s everyday lives, the government is working seriously to equip everyone, especially the marginalized sector, to boost their chance of employment and livelihood and ultimately contribute to the country’s economic development. “One of our major roles as DICT is to empower people by equipping them with skills and open more job opportunities enabling them to transform their lives and collectively transform their community they belong,” she added, stressing that the bottom-line of all these efforts is to mainly to address poverty.

Ceremonial turn-over of Tech4Ed equipment

More than a tool to address the huge digital divide as well as poverty, the program also addresses the issues on insurgency.

With over 2,000 Tech4Ed centers already established all over the country, theTech4Ed center launched here on Wednesday is the first that specifically caters to former rebels.

During the launching, the former rebels, who are mostly first-time computer-users, say they are thrilled and excited to try out the new platform. “We are very excited because this is new to us. It’s an interesting way to learn which motivates us to learn. I think it would really help us a lot,” said one of the nine former rebels currently housed at the Happy Home.

 

Former rebels who are currently residing at the Happy Home try out the new computers installed with interactive learning programs.

Provincial Governor’s Office Chief of Staff Ednar Dayanghirang lauded the innovative program which he says an effective way to address the root causes of insurgency which is primarily poverty.

“By providing access to new technology poised to improve people’s lives is one way of showing how serious the government is in pulling people out from poverty,” he said.

He added that to fight poverty is the most effective way to counter insurgency and it is the local government who should be at the frontline towards this endeavor. He emphasized that there is no better way to address insurgency than good governance. “And that is what Davao Oriental is doing. It is no less than the Governor through his strategy Nagkakaisang Lingkod-Bayan ng Davao Oriental that propels all government agencies into action through synergy and collaboration in addressing the needs of the people,” he said.

 

Civil-Military Officer of the Philippine Army’s 701st Brigade Cpt. Reyboy Ibanes said that the newly launched program sends a strong message to rebels who are still running from the government. “Some may think that this is a simple project but the impact of this in terms of insurgency is very huge,” he said, adding that the program would entice more rebels to surrender as it shows how the government means to provide opportunities for them.

Aside from the Tech4Ed center for former rebels at the Happy Home, another center has also been launched for the soldiers of the Philippine Army’s 701st Brigade.

 

The Tech4Ed centers consist of brand new computer units, programs for the Tech4Ed platform, trainings, and technical assistance from the DICT. To further push for digital literacy and internet access, the DICT is in developing free wifi in public places all over the country. By Karen Lou Deloso/Photo by Chopin Siblos

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