With the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating the rise of the digital economy, enabling the rapid adoption of technology has become essential for any country’s development. To ensure that no Filipino is left behind in this tech revolution, PLDT and Smart Communications, Inc. remain at the forefront of fostering digital literacy and improving digital citizenship for Filipinos.
“Digital citizenship is the ability to engage positively in the digital environment through social participation and responsible use of technology,” said Atty. Roy Ibay, Smart Vice President for Regulatory Affairs, during the recent virtual town hall hosted by Stratbase ADR Institute.
With the theme ‘Digital Readiness PH: Fostering a Digital Empowerment Agenda for Recovery and Competitiveness,’ the event gathered experts to discuss how to address the digital gap exacerbated by COVID-19.
Ibay stressed the role of telcos in enabling Filipinos’ digital citizenship amid the pandemic. “For PLDT and Smart, digital empowerment is inextricably linked with empowering the digital citizen. Telcos should be enablers of digital literacy,” he said.
“While telcos enable the digital world by providing the necessary infrastructure, we as digital citizens must play our part and maximize technology to build a strong digital Philippines,” Ibay added.
Also present during the townhall were Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Gregorio Honasan and other industry leaders.
“As we continue to adapt to the new normal, let us make good use of every opportunity to build stronger and more resilient communities. We call on our leaders, industry experts, and stakeholders to join us in working towards digital transformation through people-centric approaches,” Honasan said.
Developing tools for digital literacy
In addition to the rollout of digital network infrastructure, PLDT and Smart have likewise implemented digital literacy programs to address the existing gaps of the Digital Age.
These include deploying over 300 School-in-a-Bags, a portable digital classroom which facilitates learning in remote areas, as well as conducting digital upskilling projects such as the PLDT Infoteach Outreach Program, Digital Retailers Program, Digital Farmers Program and Smart Coops, which are geared toward Smart’s own Ka-Partner retailers, smallholder farmers and cooperatives, respectively.
Enabling these initiatives is PLDT and Smart’s massive network investments. As of end-June, PLDT’s fiber infrastructure is at over 524,000 kilometers, the country’s most extensive. This supports Smart’s mobile networks, which cover 96% of the population from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi.