Smart, donor bring Christmas cheer to remote Bukidnon school

ST. ISIDORE High School is a Catholic school in a remote agricultural village called Zamboanguita in Bukidnon. It is situated more than 50 kilometers from the nearest city, Malaybalay, and almost 140 kilometers from Cagayan de Oro City.

Getting access to technology that can aid learning is thus difficult. But with the help of generous sponsors, the students – some of whom belong to lumad tribes – can now use digital tools and content to enhance their education.

An executive of mobile operator Smart Communications, Debbie Tan, used her budget for Christmas gifts to donate a School-in-a-Bag to St. Isidore High School. Launched early this year by Smart, the School-in-a-Bag is a backpack containing a solar panel for electricity, a laptop, tablet, mobile phone, pocket Wi-Fi with starter load, LED TV, and digital learning modules.

The School-in-a-Bag is one of Smart’s initiatives under its umbrella corporate social responsibility program, Smart Communities. This aims to use technology to develop different social sectors, including education.

Linking the peripheries to the global knowledge economy

“We are truly grateful for this early Christmas gift to our school. With the School-in-a-Bag program, our students and teachers here in Zamboanguita are able to expand their horizon of knowledge. Our lessons become more relevant and interesting,” said the school director, Fr. Ernald M. Andal, S.J.

“As in all gifts, we receive it with a responsibility to share its benefits to the bigger community. We hope to strengthen a culture that sees technology not just as a vital tool for today’s academic instruction, but as a link for those in the peripheries to reach out to the center and vice-versa,” he added.

In 2016, Smart has donated 10 School-in-a-Bag units to remote schools in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. It hopes to get people and organizations to add to this number via sponsorships. One School-in-a-Bag unit costs P100,000. This already includes the devices, learning modules aligned with the K-12 curriculum, training for the teachers, and delivery of the unit. Each bag will benefit hundreds of students in its expected working life span of five years.

Sponsors needed for students in ‘unenergized’ schools

“Right now there are 3,000 schools in the Philippines – serving more than a million students – without electricity. There are still a lot of Filipino students who have not seen, much more used, a television, computer, or tablet that could help enhance their learning,” said Smart public affairs senior manager Stephanie Orlino.

“We don’t want children in remote areas to be left behind. We want to help them gain access to the wealth of knowledge out there through digital learning tools. But we cannot do this alone, which is why we encourage companies, alumni associations, rotary clubs, local government units, and individuals to pitch in. Let us give these children a fighting chance for a better future,” she added.

Tan, vice president for enterprise risk management at Smart, said the School-in-a-Bag was “the perfect solution to my need for a Christmas gift that would ‘keep giving.’

“The students at St. Isidore High School get a helping hand to the future, and my friends and colleagues get their thanks and prayers,” she said.

TechnoCart for schools with electricity

While the School-in-a-Bag is meant for schools without electricity that are located in hard-to-reach areas, the Smart TechnoCart is targeted towards schools in more urbanized locations. This is a cart that contains 20 student tablets preloaded with the Batibot mobile application for kindergartners, one teacher tablet, one laptop, a Smart Bro pocket Wi-Fi, and a projector.

Since June 2015, Smart has distributed TechnoCarts to 30 public schools from as far as Pangasinan and Tawi-Tawi.  Seventeen of these were donated by Smart, while the rest were given to beneficiary schools through the initiative of private donors. Each TechnoCart costs P200,000.

For more information on how to donate either a TechnoCart or a School-in-a-Bag, interested parties may send an email to or visit

Students from a remote school in Bukidnon now have access to digital learning tools and content with Smart’s School-in-a-Bag

Want to help public school children this Christmas? Give them the gift of digital learning via a TechnoCart or School-in-a-Bag. Individuals, families, groups of friends, and organizations are welcome to sponsor. Please email or visit for more details.


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