The eSkwela is a flagship project of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT), through its Humanitarian Capital Development Group (HCDG), and in partnership with the Bureau of Alternative Learning Systems of the Department of Education (DepEd-BALS). Its aim is to provide free ICT-enhanced educational opportunities for Filipino out-of-school youth and adults (OSYA). It integrates ICTs into the Alternative Learning System (ALS) of DepEd.
It is currently funded by CICT through the e-Government Fund under the ICT for Basic Education Program (ICT4BE).
The program is focused on the establishment of Community-based e-Learning Centers or eSkwelas – an alternative and innovative learning set-up for mobile teachers/instructional managers and the OSYA in the Philippines. It also provides opportunities for poor and affluent who have dropped out of regular school due to poverty or other reasons. The eSkwela also accepts housewives and housemaids who are uncomfortable in attending regular classes because of their age.
Through eSkwela, students need not bring lots of pens and papers and not even go to school five times a week to finish high school because participants just need to study in front of the computer, three hours a week and learn according to their need and speed.
The usual ALS programs uses printed modules to teach students but eSkwela is focused on the content development of the current print modules into an e-learning format.
- Communication skills
- Critical thinking and problem solving
- Sustainable use of resources and productivity
- Development of self and a sense of community
- Expanding world vision
Initially, enrollees take a “functional literacy test” to determine what competencies and modules they need. In every session, each student uses a computer stored with digital modules with videos and animation, while a facilitator helps students navigate the said modules and keeps track of the students' progress. The facilitator then determines if the learner is ready for DepEd’s Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) Examination, a chance to obtain the equivalent of a high school diploma. These facilitators are paid paid by DepEd.
CICT-HCDG has secured a grant from the APEC Education Foundation (Korea) for establishing four pilot sites namely: Quezon City, San Jose del Monte, Cebu City and Cagayan de Oro City. Recipient communities have been provided with 21-unit networked computers, relevant peripherals, internet connectivity for one year, educators’ training, content, a customized learning management system, and project monitoring and evaluation.
On February 2008, around 356 students from the four pilot eSkwela sites took the A&E test. About 57 percent or 204 passed, higher than the 29 percent national passing rate.
The centers are constructed by local governments or private donors while CICT provides digital modules and trains facilitators. The DepEd pays the salaries of facilitators.