SATELLITE COMMUNICATION SYSTEM. A technician installs a very small aperture terminal (VSAT) dish at the Bacsil Elementary School in Laoag City on June 19, 2020. DepEd Laoag City hopes to have more of this kind in support of the “new normal” education of children with poor internet connectivity. (Photo courtesy of DepEd Laoag City Inforboard)


LAOAG CITY – Barely two months before the opening of classes, a rural school in this city has installed its first very small aperture terminal (VSAT) satellite communication system that provides direct internet access to schools located along coastal and mountainous terrains here.
In partnership with both public and private stakeholders in the province, the installation of VSAT dish in schools with weak signals is a priority project of the Department of Education (DepEd) here to ensure continuous learning of students during the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
In support of the project, the Schools Division Office (SDO) of Laoag, led by Schools Division Superintendent Vilma Eda, recently launched the “I’M SAFE NOW” project which aims to raise funds to make online learning possible for all public schools in the city.
Eda said the fundraising drive through selling of t-shirts and reusable face masks hopes to generate at least PHP1 million for the VSAT installation.
“We need more support to realize this project and we will do everything we can in ensuring that no children in the province will be left behind in terms of better access to education,” Eda said in an interview on Monday.
To date, the SDO has identified 10 schools in Laoag with poor internet signals that need such technology. 
Since the launching of the fundraising drive last week, the SDO reported it has already generated close to PHP100,000 through donations and pledges from Ilocanos here and abroad.
As a counterpart, DepEd Laoag City is also in the process of realigning some funds for the VSAT installation and at the same time enhancing the information and communication technology (ICT) skills of teachers to ensure they are capable and competent enough in conducting various learning modalities.
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, the Schools Division of Ilocos Norte (SDOIN) has started the installation of internet towers in Burgos, Ilocos Norte to connect the division to the different schools of the province even when the telecommunication systems are down. (PNA)