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A Primer on the CyberEducation Project

See also:
Primer on the ZTE Broadband Deal


This CyberEducation Project is wrapped in so much secrecy and mystery. Considering its scale and magnitude and its gargantuan project cost, to be shouldered by our already burdened Filipino taxpayers, many pertinent details remain unknown, raising very disturbing questions on the implementation, actual outcome and even motive of the project. - Rep. Teddy Casino

What is the CyberEducation Project (CEP)?

The CyberEducation Project (CEP) is a US$465.5 million, or P21.4 billion (at $1=P46) project aiming to set up television production and satellite broadcasting facilities in the DepEd offices and public schools throughout the country.

It is the largest among 5 accords signed by the RP government with China last April 21,2007, which costs $136.5 million, or P6.2 billion more than the highly controversial ZTE Broadband deal. The project, which is set to be completed in three years, was sealed by a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed by RP Dept. of Trade and Investments (DTI) Sec. Peter Favila and Dr. Jung of Tsinghua Tongfang Nuctech Co. of China.

Eighty-six percent of the project cost or P18.47-billion will be funded by a loan from China, while the remaining fourteen percent or P2.9-billion will come from the national treasury.

While the ZTE Broadband deal has already been discontinued due to its controversial nature, the CyberEducation Project is yet to be scrapped and is still being pursued by the Department of Education (DepEd).

Despite strong opposition from different groups, the DepEd maintains its position that the project will be necessary to address the problems hounding the education system. The CyberEd, DepEd insists, is the "best response to the challenges of basic education."

What exactly will the CyberEducation Project do? How will it work?

Using the project's "advanced" technological infrastructure, the DepEd will broadcast live TV shows daily, via 12 specially dedicated video channels to some 37,792 or 90% of public schools nationwide.

Each classroom will be equipped with a television set hooked to a satellite disc. At the start of a subject period, the teacher opens the TV to receive a live satellite feed from DepEd studios in Manila. A "master teacher" gives a live lecture to tens of thousands of students simultaneously all over the country. The classroom teacher and students watch the program, then spend the rest of the time discussing and doing school work.

DepEd offices nationwide will also be inter-connected via the satellite network. Wireless internet connection may also be provided.

In order to attain this, the DepEd will have to install TVs, computers, and all necessary equipment in 34 schools daily for 3 years. Also, the DepEd will have to put up its own studio and broadcasting center to produce daily live shows for 12 channels covering five subjects each.

Why is there a significant opposition to the CyberEducation Project? Why is the CyberEd controversial?

Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), League of Filipino Students (LFS), Senators Legarda and Angara, among others, including prominent bloggers, have expressed opposition to the CyberEducation Project. Critics are pointing out the following:

Lack of transparency

Like the ZTE deal, the CyberEd Project was signed in a hasty, secretive and suspect manner. The official copy of the Memorandum of Agreement was reportedly also lost, together with the original ZTE contract. Until now, the government still have not produced a copy of the MOA to respond to the investigations in Congress.

Details of how the project will be implemented and break down of costs have not been fully ironed out, a matter that is highly questionable for something that will cost billions.

Questionable endorsement by Neri

The project, like the ZTE deal, was also endorsed by NEDA chief Romulo Neri, and like the ZTE deal, in a questionable manner. It was reported that in past cabinet hearings and reviews, DOTC usec Formoso expressed reservations about the project overlapping with existing ICT projects and the NBN, an opinion that Romulo Neri supported.

A few weeks before the signing, Neri changed his decision and endorsed the project on flimsy grounds.

Too expensive and impractical

With the CyberEd's budget of P21.4 billion, the government could construct 51,913 classrooms, hire close to two million new teachers or buying 336 million chairs, or acquire 434 million new textbooks. Or the gov't could just allot the same amount to provide full four-year college scholarships to 1,085,000 students.

Knowledge Channel, a similar program, but not as ambitious is technical scope, costs only $1,500 per school or only about P1.8 billion covering the same number of schools as the CyberEd.

According to experts, a satellite system will also be too costly and impractical for such use, as there are other cheaper and practical ways to conduct inter-connectivity and media sharing.

Cyber-Redundancy

The project will not utilize previous Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure and projects, and will rely on its own "backbone." It will not even be utilizing the facilities and technology of the planned ZTE NBN project and will have a separate, thus redundant infrastructure.

Even NEDA chief Neri, in a report, acknowledged this fact saying that the "overlap" will, according to his computations, reach P4 billion to P5 billion. This was also the initial stand of DOTC Usec. Formoso.

Impossible to implement

Installing the equipment (34 schools daily), producing daily live broadcast shows for 12 channels (something that even ABSCBN and GMA will have a hard time doing), training teachers and administrators and adjusting the curriculum design to fit the scheme, will be a hard task for an agency which cannot even ensure the correctness of its textbooks and proper running of school toilets.

Most believe that this is an overly ambitious fantasy not fit for an agency which, track record have shown, is not even capable of addressing the most basic problems.

Not a solution to basic education woes

TV shows and tech babble will not solve the basic low-tech problems of our educational system: low budget, classroom shortages, lack of books and facilities, lack of teachers, mismanagement and flawed orientation.

Another multi-million dollar racket for the Arroyo's and the boys


This overly ambitious, extra expensive, impractical and highly questionable project will only be an additional burden to Filipino taxpayers and will again make the youth and the entire education system victim to the corrupt schemes of the Arroyo government and her minions.

There is an explanation why Sec. Jesli Lapuz, Arroyo and her cabinet insist on continuing with the project despite its obvious defects: this project costs billions more than the ZTE, and that means billions worth of more kickback. More money "for the boys" --- and Gloria. #

Bloglinks:
http://tonyo.blogspot.com/2007/10/arroyo-must-not-cover-up-impose-cyber.html
http://sirmartin.wordpress.com/2007/09/16/why-i-am-not-excited-about-the-cyber-education-project/
http://davidllorito.blogspot.com/2007/09/technical-questions-on-depeds-cyber.html
http://csrexpo2007.net/downloads/ppt/DAY2/Consortium_Building_Breakout/Education-ICT/Jess_Mateo.pdf
http://activism102.wordpress.com/2007/09/21/cyber-education-project-the-best-response-to-challenges-in-philippine-education/

News:
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view_article.php?article_id=92399
http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2007/aug/08/yehey/metro/20070808met1.html
http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2007/sept/26/yehey/top_stories/20070926top5.html
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view_article.php?article_id=91128
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/infotech/view_article.php?article_id=89650
http://globalnation.inquirer.net/news/news/view_article.php?article_id=88617
http://www.deped.gov.ph/updates/updateslinks.asp?id=182


“A Primer on the CyberEducation Project”