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Smart School-in-a-Bag opens up learning opportunities for Mangyan children

Members of the Alangan tribe of the Mangyan ethnic group in Mindoro have long been discouraged from getting education, as it is believed that being literate will only enable them to trick their less educated peers.

Mindoro SIAB 001 (002)

Over the years, however, this perception has changed, with the building of schools in areas where the tribes live. Mangyan children are now encouraged to study and seek life beyond just planting sweet potatoes and bananas, and getting married early.

To provide the Mangyan children more access to education, PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications Inc. recently turned over a School-in-a-Bag unit to Inawa Panaynep Elementary School in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro.

The Smart School-in-a-Bag comes with a laptop, mobile phone, LED TV, solar panel, Smart Bro Pocket Wi-Fi, and five tablets loaded with a literacy app and the “Maging Laging Handa” series of disaster preparedness videos.

The donation was made possible by UBS Philippines through PLDT-Smart Foundation and Alagang Kapatid Foundation Inc. It was the first of 10 Smart School-in-a-Bag units sponsored by UBS to be deployed to public schools in underserved areas.

Sablayan Mayor Eduardo Gadiano said it was important to ensure the continuous education of the Mangyan children. “Kapag bababa na sa patag, ayaw na. Kapag nandito na ang school, magpapatuloy sila (Some of them stop going to school because they have to walk far to the lowlands. That’s why we built the school here, where they live, so they will continue their studies).”

Gadiano said the digital learning tools brought by Smart would motivate the children to study better. “Kahit walang building, basta may ganito, ay maraming natututunan. Maganda at may kuryente rito, at kung wala ay may solar (panel) naman (Even if we don’t have a building, we already have the tools, and the power care of the solar panel),” he added.

According to Smart public affairs senior manager Stephanie Orlino, previous School-in-a-Bag student-beneficiaries have reported higher engagement and less absenteeism.

“School-in-a-Bag is not just about the gadgets; it also has digital content that could help enhance learning. This is important especially for the Mangyan children, as increased learning will broaden their horizon and encourage them to dream bigger,” she said.

Gener Murillo, a teacher at Inawa Panaynep who is also a Mangyan tribe member, also said the digital tools would definitely improve the students’ learning abilities. “Malaking tulong itong binibigay nyong tablet, dahil nakikita ng mga bata ang mga aralin. Pag naririnig lang kasi nila, hindi masyadong tumatagal sa isipan (These tools will help the children learn better, because the ideas are presented visually. When they only hear about it, the concepts are not retained well).”

Since last year, Smart has distributed 33 School-in-a-Bag units to different schools, 19 of which have been sponsored by individuals and organizations like UBS. Twelve more packages are set to be turned over in the coming months. Each bag costs P100,000.

Those who are interested to donate Smart’s School-in-a-Bag units may email TechnoCart@smart.com.ph

Mangyan students of Inawa Panaynep Elementary School will now enjoy the benefits of digital learning via the School-in-a-Bag package donated by Smart and UBS Philippines.

The Smart School-in-a-Bag traveled hundreds of kilometers by land and ferry to bring digital learning to the indigenous students of Mindoro.