TESDA, Intel tie up to boost Philippine digital literacy thru Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — Chipmaker Intel and the government’s Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) recently launched a learning module that aims to bring underserved Filipinos to the digital world.

Through a program called “Intel Easy Steps,” participants in TESDA’s various training programs will be trained to acquire 21st century skills and knowledge, which have proven critical in an increasingly digitally-driven global economy.

The two parties launched the collaboration during TESDA’s inaugural Technical Education and Skills Development Congress in Pasay City recently.

The modules will aid learners acquire basic understanding and skills in computer programs such as graphics, word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and Internet applications, among many others.

Basic knowledge of these computer-aided tasks has already become a common requirement for recruitment in a number of industries, even those that are not necessarily related to information technology. The business process outsourcing sector, for example, prefers applicants with an astute understanding of computers and the Internet.

Intel said the offline-based learning module will soon be expanded to cater to a wider audience through the social networking site Facebook, where more than 30 million Filipinos converge and converse with each other every day.

“We have already developed the necessary materials to launch the Easy Steps program into the web environment, specifically in the social media website, Facebook,” said Ricky Banaag, country manager for Intel Philippines.

The Facebook app could prove to be a boon for potential skilled workers or entrepreneurs living in the countryside, whose sole link to urban centers in their respective provinces comes in the form of a mobile Internet connection.

Currently, however, only about one in three Filipinos have access to the Internet as the archipelagic nature of the Philippines proves difficult for a more rapid rollout of Internet technology nationwide.

Still, Internet cafes and the government’s community e-Centers allow citizens to access the Internet or use a computer even without having to own one.

“We have seen the rate of development in other Asia Pacific countries through the use of different forms of technology,” noted Joel Villanueva, TESDA’s Executive Director.

“With the extensive learning materials and approach provided by the program, we can expand our reach to a lot more Filipinos and empower them with ICT skills, a must competency for TESDA programs,” he added.

Acquiring ICT-related skills is rapidly becoming a must in an increasingly digital economy, with the United Nations citing in a recent report the 0.32 percent annual contribution of mobile broadband technology to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), an indicator of a nation’s total economic output.

The number is consistent with a recent World Bank study, which revealed that a 10-percent increase in a country’s broadband penetration represents a 1.38 percent GDP growth in low- and middle-income countries.