Boracay, The Philippines, 19 May 2015 – The Philippines as APEC 2015 host economy, in partnership with the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) held a Symposium on the Internet Economy on 18 May 2015 at the margins of the APEC Second Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM 2), at the Crown Regency Resort, Boracay, Aklan, Philippines.
In her presentation, Ms. Bettina Quimson, Deputy Executive Director of the e-Society Office of the Department of Science and Technology – Information and Communications Office (DOST-ICTO) of the Philippines, focused on the benefits of improving Internet connectivity nationwide. This would enable government services to be delivered directly to the people and contribute to better disaster mitigation and response management. In a social context, this could lead to the strengthening of family values through better communication.
Ms. Quimson discussed the different programs and steps the Philippine government has taken to use ICT-enabled applications in the delivery of services in areas such as education and employment among others. The Philippines is pushing for free wifi access in the rural areas to address the knowledge and digital divide, and to open new markets beyond the local communities.
She further implied that this thrust is also brought about by the tendency of telecommunications companies to shy-away from rural areas because of the improbability of profit and return of investment.
According to Ms. Quimson, only 8% of Filipinos from rural areas who enter school at the elementary level go on to finish their studies and acquire a university degree. Because of the state of agriculture in the countryside and its labor-intensive nature, parents would rather have their children work in the fields with them, causing the children to be unable to attend some school days. Eventually, they may opt out of school altogether.
To address this fundamental concern, ICT-enabled applications will be central elements under different programs to improve the delivery of education to students, alternative learning systems, upgrading the skills of teachers, and online distance learning. They will also be the main platform for skills development and specialized training leading to industry specific careers and high-income jobs, and to allow SMEs to improve their operations and use the internet as a tool for expansion.
Promotion of entrepreneurship in agriculture will also be aided by ICT-enabled applications through a database of relevant and useful information ranging from soil profiles and crop information, to pest information and harvest forecasting.
This is part of the overall strategy being undertaken to promote inclusive growth and through the Internet Economy.