MANILA – The United States and its Philippine partners have donated over PHP10 million worth of learning equipment to support early grade reading in the country, the US Embassy in Manila said Thursday.

At least 100 "school-in-a-bag" kits were turned over to select schools in Bicol, Western Visayas, Maguindanao, Cotabato Special Geographic Area, Cotabato City, and other schools associated with the US Agency for International Development's (USAID) remote learning study.

Each kit contains a laptop computer, 10 tablets with one terabyte of memory each, and pocket Wi-Fi preloaded with PHP500 worth of internet access.

“Through the Smart School-in-a-Bag initiative, we will be able to advance digital literacy amid and beyond the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in remote areas that lack access to technology,” USAID Philippines Acting Deputy Mission Director Brandon Miller said.

“We will continue to forge partnerships with the private sector, local government units, and local communities so that every child has access to a quality education,” he added.

The initiative is in partnership with Smart Communications and Philippine Business for Social Progress. The kits will be distributed by the Department of Education.

The tablets will be loaded with e-resources such as DepEd TV episodes, interactive literacy primers in mother tongue languages, USAID-supported e-books, and other digital resources that can bridge the digital divide and improve early grade reading, especially for students in the most remote areas of the country.

“We thank our partners, USAID, Smart Communications, and PBSP for this undertaking. Truly, bayanihan is very much alive in DepEd even as we face very difficult challenges to make sure that learning will continue," DepEd Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio said.

"We recognize the value of harnessing the generosity of our partners and stakeholders in improving learning outcomes of our learners, especially in Last Mile Schools,” he added. (PNA)