At geothermal energy provider Energy Development Corporation’s (EDC) Kidapawan City office, a room full of people are unboxing second-hand laptops, which they are installing with operating systems and software applications, and sticking on decals that read, “Digitising the Future”.
The group is led by EDC and its partners DXC Technology, a leading Fortune 500 global technology services company, and Australian charity LiteHaus International.
They were preparing 150 refurbished laptops to be donated to schools in Kidapawan City, Cotabato, including a public high school attended by children from an indigenous tribe. Many of these children have never seen or held a computer before.
The donation is aligned with EDC’s banner youth education programme SIKAT, meaning sunshine or ray in Tagalog, which seeks to support the provision of quality education to underprivileged students in 127 schools within the vicinity of its geothermal power plant sites across the country.
This donation drive is seen to benefit 18 public schools with a total of 300 laptops being made accessible to close to 10,000 students in Kidapawan, a remote southern Philippines city about 1,404 kilometres from Manila where EDC’s Mindanao I, II, III geothermal sites are located.
Allan Barcena, assistant vice president and corporate relations and communications head, EDC said: “The 300 laptops from DXC Technology and LiteHaus International will place a world of digital opportunities right at the heart of the 18 schools selected for this initiative. We are delighted to be partnering with DXC and LiteHaus International in making a positive difference by connecting students through technology, reducing digital barriers, and providing them with a platform that contributes to their educational success.”
While the Department of Education’s (DepEd) computerisation program is in effect in the city’s 75 public schools and 18 private schools that serve up to 48,000 basic education and secondary school students, the number of computers cannot keep up with the schools’ population. Digital literacy is high in schools near the city central, where public computer rentals are available, but computer literacy remains low for those in far-flung areas.
Dr Natividad G. Ocon, CESO VI, schools division superintendent for Kidapawan City School District, said access to digital tools will help students in Kidapawan City keep pace with the rest of the world: “If you are not computer literate you can’t seem to compete globally. Having access to a computer is not a luxury but a necessity for learning.”
“Our mantra in the schools’ division, is that nobody should be left behind. We recognise that partners are a big part of our dream to make our learners on par with the world.”
Grade six student Mara Lee G. Arquinon attends Lapan Elementary School in remote Purok Pagkakaisa, Barangay Perez, Kidapawan City, where children now have laptops to use for the first time since the school opened two decades ago. “I am happy. I want to be a policewoman in the future. I want to help my parents. Computers are important to help me finish my studies,” she said.
Lapan Elementary School head Jay Ann H. Batilo explains that the school is a full-service school, meaning that there are teachers available for each grade level, from kindergarten level up to 6th grade. Up to 40 per cent of the school’s population of 137 pupils come from indigenous families.
Another school recipient, Sumayahon Elementary School, is a mixed-grade school of 84 students, where teachers have to combine children from different grades into one class either due to the lower school enrollment or the lack of available teachers. Up to 84 per cent of the student population come from indigenous families.
“It’s challenging to teach a multi-grade class, but our teachers have been trained to juggle. After teaching the grade 1 curriculum and assigning them an activity, they will then teach the grade 2 students,” explains teacher-in-charge Melvin G. Africa.
Sumayahon, which translates to “To be happy,” in the local language, has dedicated one room as a computer room. “We will prioritise training grade 5 and 6 pupils to use the computers,” Africa said.
The partnership with EDC marks the expansion of DXC Technology’s Digital Futures Programme into Asia Pacific. The programme seeks to improve access to technology, literacy, education, and employment within communities in need, enabling people to seize opportunities in the digital economy. It also helps divert electronic waste from landfills by extending the equipment’s end of life.
Seelan Ngayam, president for Asia Pacific, DXC Technology, said: “The programme is based on the simple premise of acquiring refurbished laptops and redistributing them to students, schools, and communities across the Asia Pacific region. Programmes like this are successful because our colleagues, customers, and partners share the vision and commitment to stewardship and sustainability.”
Globally, DXC is reusing or recycling 99 per cent of its IT equipment, supporting a target of zero e-waste to landfill.
This initiative was Australian non-profit LiteHaus International’s foray into the Philippines under its banner Digital Infrastructure Programme, which seeks to provide 105,000 people in the developing world with access to digital learning tools and opportunities. Since being established in 2018, the NGO has launched digitisation projects in Papua New Guinea and Australia.
As the implementation partner, LiteHaus International will help install the laptops in the schools’ computer laboratories, monitor them to ensure they are useable, and replace any that are malfunctioning. This way, the students would enjoy using fully functioning computers for as long as the partnership is active.
Jack Growden, founder and CEO, LiteHaus International, said: “We are thrilled to see our partnership with DXC Technology, founded on a shared vision for a digitally-empowered world, have an impact on the lives of thousands of students here in the Philippines. The deep connection with our local partners and Energy Development Corporation have with communities in the Kidapawan area will ensure that the 300 laptops which DXC is donating will go to good use.”
About Energy Development Corporation
The Energy Development Corporation (EDC) is the world’s largest vertically integrated geothermal company and the Philippines’ largest 100 per cent renewable energy (RE) firm with over 46 years of pioneering sustainable business practices. It is a subsidiary of First Gen Corporation (First Gen), the power generation arm of First Philippine Holdings Corporation (FPH), a Filipino conglomerate with interests in energy, real estate, construction, and manufacturing.
EDC has over 1,480-MW total installed capacity that accounts for 20 per cent of the country’s total installed RE capacity. Its 1,185.40-MW geothermal portfolio accounts for 62 per cent of the country’s total installed geothermal capacity, making the Philippines the third largest geothermal producer in the world.
About LiteHaus International
LiteHaus International is an Australian NGO bridging the digital divide through its Digital Infrastructure Program, which has provided 105,000 people across the developing world with digital learning tools and opportunities. The organisation has set a strategic vision to digitise a million dreams, impacting a million individuals across Asia-Pacific, by 2027.
About DXC Technology
DXC Technology (NYSE: DXC) helps global companies run their mission-critical systems and operations while modernizing IT, optimizing data architectures, and ensuring security and scalability across public, private and hybrid clouds. The world’s largest companies and public sector organisations trust DXC to deploy services to drive new levels of performance, competitiveness, and customer experience across their IT estates. Learn more about how we deliver excellence for our customers and colleagues at DXC.com.