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PIA Press Release

Network of digital infra to link entire country by 2010 - PGMA

Manila (20 September) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said today that by the end of her presidency in 2010, the network of digital infrastructure on which her government embarked in the last six years shall have linked the entire country…"

Thus committed President Arroyo this morning when she addressed the opening of the two-day Asia Policy Forum on ICT Integration Into Education at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in the Ortigas Center in Pasig City.

The President reiterated part of the vision in her 2004 presidential address after reading the latest issue of a magazine, BizNews Asia, where TJ Javier of Microsoft was quoted as saying, thus:

"The digital divide persists between and within countries, including the Philippines. Most areas of the country still lack basic access to technology and training. Nowhere is the ICT gap more evident than in education. Students in the Philippines often lack access to computers and software, and educators are not always trained in how technology can aid learning."

"And I think that is why we're all here today. And that's also why during my presidential address… I described that part of my vision… (that) everyone of school age shall be in school, in an uncrowded classroom, in surroundings conducive to learning, including internet access in every public high school," the President said.

President Arroyo further quoted Microsoft's Javier, thus: "For the Philippines, creating an educated, technology-proficient workforce is perhaps the key driver of competitive success in the global knowledge economy. In order to participate in an increasingly flat world, we must address the skills and knowledge divide."

To this, the President announced that "on the part of the government, we're working hard to maintain the competitiveness of our workforce through investments in human capital. To start with: To prepare our youth to be the next generation of knowledge workers, we're upgrading Math and Science teaching in basic education."

"We will also continue to leverage our level of I.T. proficiency that currently includes over 75,000 licensed professionals, with technical expertise in software development and engineering design. We have to keep our edge by a huge, integrated quantum leap in value-laden ICT education…" the President continued.

President Arroyo reiterated her earlier announcement in the Electronics Strategic Forum at the Shangri-La Makati yesterday that her administration is "investing three billion pesos in science and engineering research and development technology, including scholarships for masters and doctoral degrees in engineering in seven universities…"

The President also announced the latest good news in the country's economic front: "We're pleased to report that the national government registered a budget surplus of P13.9 billion in August – a budget surplus of P13.9 billion amid strong revenues due to the improved performance of both the Bureau of Internal revenue and the Bureau of Customs."

"The August surplus allowed the government to trip down its budget deficit to P25.5 billion – P25.5 billion in the first eight months from P39.4 billion in the first seven months. So it looks like we're well within our budget deficit ceiling..."

The President congratulated the organizers of the forum which has some 300 guests and participants from 10 Asian countries.

The forum hopes to "discuss and find solutions to current challenges in ICT in education in the region."

The said forum was also attended by the President's daughter, Luli, who is the director of Strategic Development of FIT-ED (Foundation for Information Technology Education and Development Inc.), the forum's Philippine organizing partner.

The forum was organized by World Links, a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. It was funded by the World Bank-administered Japan Social Development Fund and by Intel Corporation, with FIT-ED as Philippine partner. (PIA) [top]

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