/ 28 February 2021

During trying times, especially during a pandemic, the private sector takes on an even bigger role in the country – not only uplifting the national economy, but also the lives of the Filipino.

Thus, it was encouraging to see that, despite the continuing COVID-19 situation in the Philippines, One Meralco Foundation (OMF) pushed through with its electrification of off-grid public schools to help teachers in far-flung communities implement blended learning.

For a decade now, OMF has been installing between 1- to 3-kilowatt solar PV systems in public schools in some of the farthest and hardest-to-reach villages in the archipelago (mostly outside of the Meralco franchise area) under its school electrification program. A core advocacy of the foundation, the program provides a means for students in these remote villages to access digital tools such as computers and the Internet — vital to developing skills essential in the 21st Century workplace.

But now, it is a whole different ball-game, given the pandemic. Blended learning is an educational approach that combines online learning with traditional methods. For the most part, with schools not holding face-to-face classes to prevent the further spread of the virus, students are studying at home using printed modules and worksheets, while teachers hold lectures online or use other digital means to check on the progress of their students.

“Without electricity, teachers won’t be able to access learning materials and print them. Additionally, they won’t be able to participate in online seminars that would prepare them for implementing distance learning. Their students are the ones who will ultimately suffer,” OMF President Jeff Tarayao explained.

Thus, the good fight continues. Fortunately, the program has already brought electricity access to more than 250 schools across the country’s three major island groups. I am definitely looking forward to even more “energizations” this 2021.