The technocrats are back in the Philippines.
Through the initiative of now-Australian-based former employees of the National Computer Centre (NCC), a movement to bring computer technology and knowledge to the rural areas of the Philippines is starting.
The NCC, formerly located at Camp Aguinaldo and currently at the University of the Philippines-Diliman, was the top government department in charge of computerising all Philippine government offices, departments and bureaus in the late 1970s.
Three decades ago, it was at the forefront of revolutionising the processing of data in all Philippine government departments and agencies, with a mandate to provide information bases for integrated planning and implementation of development programs and operational activities in the government.
The pioneer employees of the NCC, led by Managing Director Ret. Col. Juan M. Sanchez, were graduates of the Philippines’ top universities who underwent rigorous training under information technology consultants from Japan, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, and the United States. They converted the processing of data from paper to “bits and bytes” and thus successfully implemented the Philippines’ computerisation programs.
These pioneers, many of whom have dispersed around the globe—including in Australia—to further their skills, are now organising themselves and their resources for what NCC pioneer employee Ruth Carlos Martinez calls “a massive comeback in the Philippines”.
The comeback comes in the form of the “One Laptop Per Child”-OLPC Program, which was launched in Lubang, Mindoro where Sanchez is now a mayor.
In an effort to “pursue the IT program [in the country], to demonstrate and further literacy, technology and the NCC spirit to serve [while] uplifting poverty, social and economic status of towns” and improving the educational standards at grade school level using new technology, the NCC pioneers pooled their resources and donated brand new laptopn units to rural students in Lubang, Mindoro.
Carlos-Martinez, who acts as area coordinator in Melbourne for the program, noted, “Apart from literacy, I look at the economics of the whole system. Books are not easily available to rural areas. However, OLPC can load 100 books per laptop and [this] will just fractionally touch the memory. Load 100 books in 100 laptops and you have 10,000 books shipped to a village.”
“It is not only educating the child but it is about social change. The kids become the agent of change, when they bring the laptops home and show their farmer parents [how] to read and write. When a kid does this to the parent, imagine how this builds the kids’ self esteem,” further said Carlos-Martinez.
Other former NCC employees like Meg Simpson are also encouraging not just former NCC employees, but also Lubangueños in Australia to support the program.
(From old file: http://philippinetimes.com.au/clients/philippinetimes/technocrats-make-a-comeback-in-rp-p3735.htm)/Angeli Alba