Around 500 learners of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) in Gerona town are set to benefit from an old ambulance repurposed into a mobile school with a solar-powered television by August 2023.
The G-iRIDE: Gerona Innovative Roving Interactive Instructional Materials for Diverse Educational Needs is the first mobile school in Central Luzon designed to serve ALS.
It is equipped with the Interactive Multimedia Teaching Aid (IMTA) through a 50-inch television containing the PowerPoint presentations of their lessons and other modules the teachers can use.
It features a solar-powered television, which is shockproof, waterproof, and resilient to disasters, made by Tarlac State University's Center for Solar and Emerging Technologies headed by Prof. Bryan Christopher Sico.
The project was sealed through a quadripartite memorandum of agreement with ALS DepEd Tarlac Province, Department of Science and Technology-Tarlac, the local government of Gerona, and Tarlac State University on Wednesday afternoon (August 9) at the Gerona Municipal Hall.
Dr. Helen Bose, DepEd Tarlac Education Program Supervisor, reached out to DOST-Tarlac and Gerona LGU to aid their problem in reaching out to learners from remote areas in their town. They came up with the idea of a mobile school, where they automatically tapped the expertise of TSU, which has developed several solar projects like carts and irrigation equipment.
"This will be the very first... an invention with good intention," Dr. Bose said.
She added that learners will be more interactive with the prospective mobile school.
With this project, TSU provided the technical design and specifications of the mobile school with a cost estimate of 86,000 pesos. The university also provided the aesthetic design and logo design of G-iRIDE as well as the workforce and fabrication of the mobile school.
According to Prof. Sico, he remodeled the old ambulance of Gerona LGU in two months. He said the machine was replaced with a new one, and the engine was fully repaired/conditioned. Two designs were presented to Mayor Eclar that he could choose from.
He added that he only did not want to make it look nice but also to make it conducive to learning and functional.
Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Agnes Macaraeg represented the university in the signing ceremony along with Office of Research Development Director Dr. Robert Marcos, Extension Affairs and Linkages Department Head Prof. Emir Lenard Sicangco, and Prof. Sico.
VP Macaraeg delivered TSU President Dr. Arnold Velasco's message regarding the contribution of the university's innovation to a wide range of learners.
"This collaboration will assist in the conduct of baseline analysis as well as impact assessment concerning the mobile school and the multimedia teaching aide; deploy faculty members and/or student teachers to assist in the implementation of the multimedia teaching aide, whenever necessary, and provide skills training courses that are not part of the ALS curriculum upon request," VP Macaraeg read.
The mobile school will make things easier for the teachers because they will have all the records and files within the G-iRIDE. Teachers only need to focus on delivering the lessons, and they no longer need to spend time making visual aids.
Gerona town Mayor Eloy Eclar said he hopes the other towns in Tarlac province would adapt their project to reach out and make education more accessible.
Also in attendance at the ceremony is DOST Provincial Science and Technology Director Ms. Karen Danez, who showed support for the new solar-based initiative.
“Ito po ay una rin sa region na naka-design 'yung sasakyan, naka-install 'yung TV and it’s solar powered, kaya kahit walang kuryente sa remote area, walang internet, hindi kailangan ng internet because it can run offline. Since it is data based, it can also be accessed through a router provided," Ms. Danez said.
"Ang DOST naman po ay kaisa ninyo lalo na sa mission ng DepEd na to promote equal, quality education sa ating mga learners. And we believe naman na lahat ng ating learners [have] equal opportunity to learn regardless of their geographic location," she further said. (jlmm-OPA)