Digital transformation key to recovery of education and business sectors amid pandemic

As part of the Philippine Preparedness Partnership (PhilPrep), the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF) recently highlighted the need for strengthened collaboration in digital transformation during a webinar titled “The Digital Shift: Adapting to Business and Education Challenges in the New Normal”, in which key representatives from government agencies and the private sector shared their current, future, and proposed joint efforts in helping educators and businesses adapt to the new normal. Held simultaneously via Zoom, Youtube, and Facebook, the event was attended by over 200 educators and micro, small, and medium enterprise (MSME) owners.

To highlight the challenges brought about by lockdown limitations to both the business and education sectors and explore current and future solutions related to digital transformation in the new normal, the webinar focused on the following topics: conducting online marketing and training, analyzing consumer behavior, embracing e-commerce, and securing data online.

“Digital transformation boosts opportunities for MSMEs in attracting more clients. Having an online presence affords greater visibility and wider outreach to previously untapped markets. The COVID-19 pandemic challenges the government, private sector, and development organizations to provide web-based tools and platforms to help local businesses survive and thrive. We must work together in building the capacity of MSMEs to further improve the quality and delivery of their products and services,” said Edwin Salonga, Asian Disaster Preparedness Center’s Country Program Manager for the Philippines).

Giving an overview of how ready the country is for digital transformation, Department of Information and Communications Technology Director for ICT Literacy and Competency Development Atty. Alvin Navarro shared that according to the UN International Telecommunications Union, the Philippines ranks only 101st among the 176 countries and territories surveyed in the ICT Development Index. Furthermore, results from the 2019 National ICT Household Survey show that only 24% of households have communal cellphones and only 17.7% of households have their own Internet access at home.

To address these gaps, DICT programs are focused on laying a national infrastructure broadband backbone, assisting government agencies’ digitalization programs, upskilling public and private workforces, and providing learning management system assistance for academic institutions and training programs on digital education. Apart from these, Navarro highlighted the need for public-private partnerships for these programs.