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DepEd Digital Learning Requirements for the COVID-19 Pandemic

Attached is an Aide Memoire from DepEd Undersecretary Alain Del B. Pascua on the Department of Education (DepEd) Digital Learning Requirements for the COVID-19 Pandemic.

DepEd currently has 1,253,919 devices distributed across 93% of public schools from projects which were implemented prior to 2017 up to the DepEd Computerization Program (DCP) of 2019. Another two sets— 36,676 laptops from DCP2020 and 39,583 from Bayanihan II, have been successfully procured and are scheduled to be delivered before the end of the year. Still another set of 65,683 laptops under DCP2021 is currently in the process of being procured. The table below illustrates the breakdown of devices that are currently available.

Once these are all delivered there will be a total of 1,385,178 devices. If these will be used by individual students, only 6% of the 22,572,923 public school enrolment can use them. They can instead be used by teachers. DepEd has already authorized schools to release the devices to teachers and learners and augment existing smartphones that are available to 67% of the population (Hootsuite 2020) and existing televisions that are in 88% of households (Kantar 2019).

Prior to 2017DCP 2017DCP 2018DCP 2019DCP 2020Bayanihan II 2021DCP 2021
Tablet PCs54,271278,400157,200
Thin Clients278,190255,020

Assuming that the life of computer devices is 5 years and those thin client computers cannot be used by individual teachers in their homes, and based on the above inventory, there are about 838,618 computer devices (223,808 Laptops; 124,939 Desktops; 489,871 Tablet PCs) that can be used by teachers. This is about 97% of the 857,310 teaching force of DepEd.

To support the delivery of distance learning and maximize the existing devices in schools and households, the Department has established the DepEd Commons and the DepEd Learning Management System (DLMS).

The DepEd Commons is an online repository of Open Educational Resources (OERs) that can be used by learners in a distance learning setup. The platform was so popular it was the fourth most searched item in the year 2020. To date, the DepEd Commons has 10.5 million registered users of which 9.5 million are learners.

The DepEd Learning Management (DLMS) allows the Department to create courses that correspond to the competencies in the curriculum. Each course is organized in a series of activities where learners are required to read a digital Self-Learning Module (SLM), watch a DepEd TV lecture, and take an online quiz. Aside from being able to organize the activities that learners need to go through the DLMS allows teachers to monitor if activities have actually been done by learners and to assess the performance through quizzes deployed in the system. The DLMS also gives teachers the flexibility to add or remove activities in the templated courses that have already been prepared for them to make the courses more relevant to the context of their learners.

Together the DepEd Commons and the DepEd Learning Management System will be used to deliver the needed activities, lessons, and performance tests in the upcoming school year reducing the need for print-based materials by 40%. Both platforms can run on computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. They do not need a constant internet connection and can function offline as long as teachers and learners periodically sync their devices to the central servers of DepEd.

To ensure that teachers and learners can synchronize their devices to the servers. The Department has connected 64% of the public schools to the internet and procured 1 million sim cards with 102GB of internet each that are currently being distributed to all teachers. The DepEd Commons has already been zero-rated with the telecommunications companies which will allow teachers and learners to download learning resources without incurring mobile data charges. Zero-rating of the DepEd Learning Management System is also in the process of being completed. To address areas without internet, the Department is working on a portable version of the DepEd Commons and DepEd Learning Management System that can be installed in a laptop which a teacher can periodically bring to a location with internet and synched with the central servers. This localized server can then be brought back to the school with no internet connection and be used to synchronize the devices of other teachers and learners allowing them to access the content in the learning platforms. Finally, the Department is in the process of procuring satellite connections for 2,000 Last Mile Schools to ensure that learners who cannot be reached by standard internet technologies will be connected to the DepEd learning platforms and content.

To ensure that the DepEd Commons and DepEd Learning Management System have the necessary learning resources needed to deliver education, the Department has also undertaken the DepEd TV and DepEd Radio Projects. Phase I of the project has already produced 1,107 first quarter and 320-second quarter episodes. Phase II which is undergoing procurement will produce an additional 5,293 episodes which will cover all the competencies under the curriculum. Phase II will also include the embedding of Filipino Sign Language (FSL) in the video lectures to make them responsive to learners who are hearing impaired, tweaking of the script to radio format where there are no visual aids making them applicable for radio-based instruction and for learners who are visually impaired, and producing K-3 episodes in three local dialects (Sinugbuang Binisaya, Ilokano, Hiligaynon).

To ensure that teachers actually make use of these tools, the Department has embarked on a massive Virtual INSET (In-Service Training) campaign through the DepEd Learning Management System. The platform was used to deploy training sessions covering 17 courses on how to use ICT for teaching from 15 March to 10 May 2021. Teachers were trained on how to use the Learning Management System for delivering classes, how to use DepEd TV/Radio, when to use video conferencing tools, and how to use authoring tools to create their own learning resources. Over 6.5M certificates were issued to 514,659 unique individuals covering 60% of the teaching population who were able to comply with the requirements of the courses in VINSET 1.0.

About 73% of the entire DepEd teaching force attended the Second Virtual In-Service Training (VINSET 2.0). A total of 606,673 teachers participated in the VINSET held from August 30 to September 3, 2021. This is a new record of the most number of participants attending a webinar simultaneously throughout the country.

The current initiatives of the Department will allow it to reduce the need for print-based materials for 40% of learners who are currently registered in the DepEd Learning Platforms and have access to the necessary devices and connectivity. In order to reach the rest of the student population, the Department needs to fully implement the Digital Rise Program.

Digital Rise Program

The use of ICT in DepEd is anchored on four major areas of the Digital Rise Program under the Public Schools of the Future (PSOF) framework, pursuant to Sulong Edukalidad:

1) Digital Literacy Skills which are contained in the implementation of the K-12 curriculum, covering the following:

a) Grades 4-6: Productivity Tools
b) Grade 7: Basic Programming
c) Grades 8-10: Multimedia Skills
d) Grades 11-12: Vocational Skills and Open Source

2) ICT-Assisted Teaching where teachers will have access to e-learning resources that have been mapped out against the curriculum and can be used in the classroom setting;

3) ICT-Assisted Learning where learners will gain feedback regarding the subjects where they are weak and the corresponding e-learning resources that they need to review to better understand the concepts; and

4) Automation of Organization Processes, such as Financial Management Reforms (FMR), that will allow DepEd to track the status of budget releases in real-time, as well as improve the accounting systems, internal control, budget utilization, and delivery systems.

To support these undertakings, DepEd has initiated the replacement of existing computer laboratories with mobile laboratories containing tablets and laptops that can be moved from one classroom to another.

This already started in the 2019 DCP where computer desktops were no longer considered for the program.

Previously, thin clients and desktops were provided and this required a dedicated classroom to be converted into a computer laboratory for computer classes.

However, since 2019, DepEd has shifted to mobile laboratories where laptops and tablet PCs can be moved across different classrooms using storage carts.

This scheme reduced the need to have dedicated classrooms that acted as computer laboratories. It also allowed the schools to hold computer classes even during power interruptions. It further enabled the schools to easily move the devices to safe locations during disasters and emergencies.

This change signified the leap from merely studying ICT as a subject, to fully utilizing its features and advantages as effective tools for both teaching and learning.

This direction of the Department has been accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The vision of DepEd to reach the following phases has become urgent and inevitable:

  1. All classrooms to have televisions;
  2. All teachers to have laptops and teaching equipment;
  3. All schools to have at least one E-Classroom Package to support 6 sections;
  4. All sites (offices, schools, and centers) are connected;
  5. All officials and teachers are connected
  6. All non-teaching personnel to have laptops and office equipment;
  7. All governance processes are automated; and
  8. All competencies in the curriculum will have TV and Radio-Based lessons that have formats accessible to learners with disabilities (e.g., hearing-impaired and visually-impaired learners) and have translations in local dialects.

This will cost about P267,002,341,249.

DepEd Computerization Program (DCP)

This initiative is the core of the DCP and the program includes the following:

E-Classroom and Multimedia Packages

E-Classroom and Multimedia Packages which contain fixed and movable or portable technologies for the teachers to deliver Digital Literacy Skills and implement ICT-Assisted Teaching, and for students for their ICT-Assisted Learning during regular classes.

There are currently 39,052 E-Classroom packages being used throughout the country for computer classes to develop Digital Literacy Skills among learners.

Providing all of the 47,025 schools with the needed E-Classroom packages for every six sections will require an investment of P150,507,000,000.

There are presently 45,869 classrooms with televisions, projectors, and laptops that support ICT-Assisted Teaching in schools, on top of the 36,676 packages under FY 2020.

Providing all the 707,600 existing classrooms with multimedia packages will require an additional investment of P65,287,320,000. This amount already includes about P33 billion for the laptops of the remaining 644,185 teachers without DepEd-issued laptops (though at the moment 838,618 computer devices [223,808 Laptops; 124,939 Desktops; 489,871 Tablet PCs] can be used by about 97% of the 857,310 teaching force of DepEd).

Public Education Network (PEN)

Public Education Network (PEN) to make sure that all schools will be connected, cyber security protocols are standardized, and utilization of ICT equipment can be monitored by DepEd.

Connecting all schools to the DepEd Public Education Network will require P4,467,375,000 more.

Educational Systems

Educational Systems will guarantee that the software needed to use the hardware for educational purposes is available.

a) Learner Information System (LIS) is currently used to issue the unique Learner Reference Number (LRN), record the basic Learner profile, and generate school forms.

It will be expanded to cover additional information on the academic performance, health status, athletics record, and socio-economic background.

It will also be improved so that learners can just order their permanent records through the internet without needing to go back to the school where they graduated from.

Permanent records will no longer be lost during disasters that may affect the school.

b) DepEd Commons will contain Open Educational Resources (OERs) and e-books for each grade level and subject area for each week in the school calendar.

These materials can be used to enrich regular classes as well as in distance learning whenever calamities, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, prevent learners from going to school.

c) LR Portal will provide educational resources that are intended to be printed, as well as the quality assurance mechanisms to produce these items.

d) Learning Management System (LMS) will help teachers create virtual classrooms where blended learning and digital quizzes can occur both in face-to-face classes, or in conditions where distance learning is required. It will also provide analytics that will allow teachers to identify which competencies a particular learner is weak in.

e) Classroom Management System will enable teachers to view and manage devices inside a classroom so they can make sure that their learners are actually doing the activities assigned to them.

f) Monitoring Applications can be used by DepEd to launch quick surveys and program tracking systems that are cellphone-based.

One of the major functions that it will perform is to facilitate the contact tracing of COVID-19 cases among teachers and learners in a secure manner that is compliant with the Data Privacy Act.

g) Telemedicine System will establish a computerized diagnosis and referral system to protect the health of learners.

h) Microsoft Subscription covers a range of products such as Office 365, which is needed to deliver the digital literacy skills component of the K-12 curriculum, Power BI for generating analytics, and Azure Cloud Services where DepEd systems are hosted.

i) Adobe Subscriptions cover a range of products from the Creative Cloud which is needed to deliver the digital literacy skills component of the K-12 curriculum and localize OERs, as well as Adobe Sign that is used for paperless transactions.

Establishing Education Systems that will allow the hardware to be used for educational purposes will cost P9,885,638,913.

Open Educational Resources (OER)

Open Educational Resources (OER) initiative where more than 7,000 videos, 20,000 interactive activities, and 5.8 million articles are pre-loaded into the ICT equipment at no cost to the government. This effort will come together with a Learning Management System (LMS) which can be accessed and used even without connectivity.

In the near future, DepEd will release a system where learners can take their quizzes and periodical exams in the LMS and automatically get feedback on areas where they are having difficulties with;

Massive Capacity Building Program

Massive Capacity Building Program that will enable teachers to fully maximize the ICT equipment and the digital literacy component of the curriculum using industry-standard applications, as well as the OERs in classroom teaching.

Teachers will also be trained to develop localized e-Learning resources that will be relevant to learners.

Building the capacity of teachers will cost P897,288,000.

Automation of Common Organizational Processes

Automation of Common Organizational Processes through the DepEd Enterprise Resource Planning System (DERPS) will cover infrastructure, software, and change management services needed to implement an integrated system for Asset Management, Procurement, Payroll, and Human Resources.

Automating all governance processes will need P2,000,000,000.

ICT Equipment for Non-Teaching Personnel

ICT Equipment for Non-Teaching Personnel will allow support personnel to provide the necessary services, learning resources, and infrastructure that will let teachers focus on teaching.

Equipping non-teaching personnel with laptops, printers, and video conferencing tools will cost P1,950,000,000.

TV and Radio-Based Education

TV and Radio-Based Education which will produce and broadcast school lessons through a dedicated DepEd channel in mediums that have the widest reach will cost P 3,000,000,000.

Education Technology Division

Establishing an Education Technology Division which will take charge of conceptualizing and implementing the integration of technology in education will cost P7,719,336.

Mobile Connectivity

Connecting all supervising officials and teachers will enable them to communicate easily through voice calls, video calls, and data sharing applications.

Through mobile connectivity, DepEd can conduct teleconferencing, video conferencing, and video calling systems to maintain collaboration among its employees. This will cost P4,000,000,000.

Emergency Tablets/Smartphones for Learners

Emergency tablets/smartphones for learners. A stock of 5 million tablets/smartphones must be prepositioned throughout the country and deployed to learners with no personal devices, whenever home-based learning is required. These units are necessary when face-to-face classes are suspended due to disasters such as the COVID-19 pandemic, typhoons, or earthquakes. At the end of three years, these devices will be given to Grade 6, Grade 9, and Grade 12 learners so that they can use them at home for learning purposes and when they graduate. This will cost another P25,000,000,000.

All in all, a total of P267,002,341,249 (say P267 billion) is needed.


Investing in equitable access to digital learning is necessary to closing socioeconomic divides in a world where some groups already benefit from the Internet and related technologies. A 2015 study by Hansen and Reich1 found that online learning resources tend to worsen inequalities between higher- and lower-income students unless mechanisms are in place to ensure that digital education is available to all. Similarly, a 2017 study by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology warned that without a policy intervention aimed at wide-scale and equitable access, digital learning resources can “widen the very gaps that technology is capable of closing.”

More broadly, a 2018 report by the International Telecommunications Union found that a one percent increase in fixed and in mobile broadband penetration were associated with an increase in education’s contribution to GDP per capita by 0.06% and 0.08%, respectively, for middle-income countries like the Philippines.3 This multiplier effect means the country can create more economic value from our existing spending on education, by investing in digital connectivity for our students and our education system as a whole.

If the Philippine government wants to provide ICT devices to all learners, then a three to six-year rapid computerization program of 50 billion per year may be undertaken to solve the digital divide. The cycle can start with providing Grades 4, 7, and 10 learners each year with devices. These devices will continue to be used by the said learners when they move up to the next grade level so that by the end of three years all learners will have their own devices. After 3 years, the units may be used by K to G3 learners or will be disposed of accordingly, while those for G12 will be given to the learners so that Grade 12 graduates will have devices that can use these after graduation either for work or for higher studies. This strategy will allow all learners to have devices in three years’ time.

Grade LevelsGadgetUnit Cost1st Year2nd Year3rd Year
G4-G6Tablet PC15,00027,770,540,00027,770,540,00027,770,540,000
G7-G9Mid- range Laptop30,00054,229,630,00054,229,630,00054,229,630,000
G10- G12Laptop60,00072,032,560,00072,032,560,00072,032,560,000

G4-6 Learners: 5,554,108; G7-10 Learners: 5,422,963; G11-12 Learners: 3,601,628

The total amount is about P462 billion. This can be greatly reduced if the government would regulate the manufacture and supply by requiring that these gadgets be made in the country. Such a move will also generate employment opportunities.

This sum when added to the P267 billion earlier laid down for all ICT requirements would make a grand total of P729 billion.

While the amounts are staggering, the benefits of the Digital Rise Program will be a big leap of the Philippines towards Cyber Presence.

More than this and notwithstanding, it will be noted that based on the latest government budget data, the country’s total investment for 2021 in ICT for Education is only US$192.46 million, with the lowest per capita investment of US$8.48, among nine countries. (Please see the table below, based on preliminary data from The Asia Foundation-Philippines.)

Government Investment in ICT for Education

CountriesTotal Investment in 2021 (in US$ Million)Per Capita Investment (in US$)
Indonesia2 3415.9716.75
Malaysia4 510822.82
Singapore8 96.918.13
India10 11 127,130.00284.3213
Japan14 15 164.54354.84
S. Korea17 188514.48
United States19 2057,200.001,190.44
United Kingdom21 22157.1418.87

Though steps to close the gap—albeit slow in coming—are headed in the right direction, it is clear that the Philippines needs to speed up and invest more in ICT for Education. It has to do this soon and fast to ensure learning continuity, develop 21st-century skills in learners, and prosper the country’s basic education.

With the proper combination of technology and education, the Filipino Youth will be ready to adapt to issues, concerns, and problems that they will face in the future, as they live in the time of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Quality education through blended learning using technology will become a reality in the Philippines.

This aide-memoire is written as a reference and a summary of what DepEd has done since 2017, what it is presently doing, what its ICT roadmap and vision is, and what is needed to accomplish all requirements. It opens up the challenge for the entire government on how to address the total ICT requirements in education so that the Philippines can cope with the world and prepare its future through the learners of today.

It is not an impossible task. There are various sources of funds. Understanding the problem, knowing how to address it, and having the appropriate policies and direction will spell success.

Mark Anthony Llego

Mark Anthony Llego, hailing from the Philippines, has made a profound impact on the teaching profession by enabling thousands of teachers nationwide to access crucial information and engage in meaningful exchanges of ideas. His contributions have significantly enhanced their instructional and supervisory capabilities, elevating the quality of education in the Philippines. Beyond his domestic influence, Mark's insightful articles on teaching have garnered international recognition, being featured on highly respected educational websites in the United States. As an agent of change, he continues to empower teachers, both locally and internationally, to excel in their roles and make a lasting difference in the lives of their students, serving as a shining example of the transformative power of knowledge-sharing and collaboration within the teaching community.

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