Friday, November 24, 2006

A Welcome Development

I just heard that the Surigao del Sur Polytechnic State College campus here in Lianga had, several days ago, announced that its students can now avail of internet access through its school computers. This is indeed a welcome if not a long overdue development. In fact, I have been wondering what took them so long to provide that essential service when the technology for setting it up at a reasonable cost, even in remote towns like Lianga, is already available.

Schools and the internet are linked inevitably to each other like a carpenter to his tools and the ordinary craftsman with the right tools can be a hundred times more effective in his job than a master can ever be without them. Used properly and in conjunction with effective teaching methods, the internet access can address that glaring problem of the insufficiency of library and research materials that local students run into in the course of their school work. And there's nothing like the internet to expand one's world, bridge oceans and reach other people in far away places who, digitally at least, are as close as a mouse click away.

The only downside to this exciting development at the SSPSC-Lianga campus is the fact, if the stories I have been told are true, that the students are being made to carry an unreasonable amount of the cost of the installation and maintenance of the internet service. Students have told me that they have been asked to pay P300 to get the service up and going although the said amount also allows them free use of the computer facilities for at least 5 hours a week for the rest of the semester.

My point is that the SSPSC is a state college operated by the government and established to provide affordable, quality education for those who may not be able to tackle the costs of studying at the ruinously expensive private colleges and universities in the cities. To burden the students with such unreasonable fees for what should be seen as an essential service, without consulting them first and seeking their approval, is in my view an extremely unwise and precipitate move on the part of the school administration. After all, the cost of setting up the technology for the internet service in the school campus is not really that expensive and even ordinary home users in town can now afford to set up a similar system in their own homes.

Still I must congratulate the college administrators for their foresight and dedication in making the effort to provide their students with access to the tools of the internet age. What remains now is for them to make such access affordable enough and easily available for those who need to eventually work, live, survive and, most especially, excel in the digital world of the future.

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