How do you use technology to improve citizens’ lives? Tell us about your role or organisation.

I am the Director for Information and Communications Technology Service of the Department of Education (DepEd) in the Philippines.

We have implemented the DepEd Computerisation Programme, providing technologies and equipment to establish and maintain ICT-enabled learning environments in schools.

We also help build up teachers’ skills in integrating ICT for teaching and learning, and their administrative work.

We setup and maintain the necessary infrastructure and information systems for effective and efficient business processes, to enhance office productivity, and support planning and decision-making at all levels of management.

A very interesting part of my role is being involved in the implementation of the Learner Information System and the Enhanced Basic Education Information System which maintains relevant data on all the 24 million students and 47,000 schools, respectively.

It is very heartwarming to see teachers in far-flung areas without electricity or even internet service go out of their way and travel to update data on their students and school. 74% of schools in the Philippines or about 35,000 do not have internet connection. The teachers’ dedication allows us to use the data to plan the hiring of teachers, provision of classrooms and interventions to improve students’ learning experience.

What has been the most exciting thing that you worked on in 2016?

Training teachers on the use of ICT tools to enhance their teaching is very exciting because we can see the immediate effect this has on their students once they use these tools.

Many of the students in the provinces and remote would only have access to computers in the schools. And using these has made great impact on improving the engagement of the students and their excitement in learning new things.

What tool or technique particularly interests you for 2017?

In 2017, we intend to fully explore the use of business intelligence tools so that we can maximise the use of the great volume of data that we have at DepED.

If you were to share one piece of advice that you learned in 2016, what would it be?

It is very important that we are able to strategically lay out a very good map of how the different applications are linked to each other. It is particularly the case for large organisations like ours – the Department of Education has 800,000 employees nationwide.

This way we can develop and implement bite-sized modules of the applications, and ensure that in the end everything ties in closely together like a jigsaw puzzle.

Who is your hero and why?

My hero is a teacher in a remote area who walks several kilometres a day to reach her students. She still finds the time to learn new things to improve her teaching and better impart knowledge to her students. This teacher would have no qualms about spending her own money and sacrificing her time to ensure that her students learn.

And finally, if you could recommend us one place to eat, where would it be?

I would recommend trying one of the small restaurants overlooking the Taal Volcano in Tagaytay City on a cold December evening, and ordering the ‘Bulalo’ (beef shank) and the fried ‘tawilis’ (caught in the Taal Lake).