Smart seeks help for School-in-a-Bag program for IP communities

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SMART COMMUNICATIONS, Inc. is looking for more donors and sponsors for its School-in-a-Bag program to reach more children from indigenous peoples (IP) communities. The project, launched in Aug. in a school in Davao City’s Marilog District, home of the Matigsalug IP, is aimed at helping improve literacy as well as for cultural preservation through modern technology. Each “bag” costs about P100,000, according to Maria Jane C. Paredes, center head for Smart Public Affairs Visayas-Mindanao. Among the contents of the bag are tablets with customized applications for teaching regular school curriculum and the community’s history and traditions. “For the Matigsalug… we really went there. We tapped into the culture and history of the group, a lot of inputs are taken from the tribes themselves such as customs, dances, songs that go into the app” Ms. Paredes said. “The development of the app takes a while because there is a lot of collaboration needed,” she added. For the Matigsalug app, Smart partnered with tribal members from Sitio Contract and with the Pamulaan Center for IP Education. Ms. Paredes said they want to serve as many IP communities nationwide as possible, but they need assistance for both funding and content development. “We are encouraging alumni of schools, preferably elementary schools, wherein they can put together their money for the bag.” She said they also want to tap corporations and the education budget of local governments. — Maya M. Padillo

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