iSchools Project: Intellectual Property sensitive Content for Students

by: Kairos Dela Cruz

“Safeguarding the rights of others is the most noble and beautiful end of a human being”

We all know our rights, sometimes we even overshoot on assuming them. The latter even makes some of us neglect the existence of others and the rights that are intrinsic to them. In cases of violence, people know about their human rights. In cases of trials, even the accused parties have the guts to assume their rights to remain silent. In the cases wherein students duplicate or photocopy resource materials, Philippines appear to be blatant in transgressing intellectual property issues.

Should this be the case and future of Philippine education? Students stealing to become educated?

iSchools Project says NO.

iSchools Project, a government funded ICT-education integration program, seeks to educate students not just by giving them free computer laboratories and training workshops; but also by providing them with intellectual property- sensitive educational materials.

The project seeks to provide high quality educational content to the project’s high school recipients through its Content Mapping Initiative (CMI), more popularly coined as Supplementary Academic Philippine Online Treasury (SAPOT). The initiative is part of the project’s thrust in empowering the major stakeholders (teachers, students and community members) of its recipient schools.

As Toni Torres, iSchools Project Manager, puts it “iSchools Project believes that ICT can propel the Philippine education system but the project will not compromise any values in doing so. Content especially in education comes at a price that not everyone can afford. To help in solving the problem, iSchools would provide free content materials in different subjects, materials that will undergo rigorous academic scrutinizing. Permissions from the “whose” end of these content materials will be coordinated and negotiated by the project”.

In the recent outlining and primary mapping workshop for CMI, iSchools Project joined hands with major academic, cultural and legal institutions at Angels’ Hills, Tagaytay City last June 20-22, 2011. Among the many subject matter experts, Atty. Mark Dy of the Intellectual Property Office (IPO-Phils.) was given the chance to explain the need and implications of insuring that CMI would not transgress any level of the intellectual property rights of the proponents of the content materials that the initiative wishes to include in the final content map.

According to Atty. Dy, “Respect for intellectual property is a strong indicator of quality creative & educational content. Designing world-class educational material always includes proper referencing, attribution and copyright clearance for all the components used in the project. This way, credit is given to those who deserve it and the entire project is kept fresh and original”.

iSchools SAPOT will distribute the content materials to project recipient high schools tentatively through three major media- an online portal, portable external hard disk and a magazine-type catalog. All of these materials will be distributed free of any charges.

During Atty. Dy’s lecture he came across with why initiatives such as SAPOT are pushing a holistic change for intellectual property in the Philippines. iSchools SAPOT is one of the first of its kind but it would not be the last of iSchools’ attempts in bridging the digital divide.

“The creative, scientific and academic communities must demand greater institutional support for copyright in the Philippines if we want our creative content to flourish. Senate Bill 2487, once passed into law, will create the Bureau of Copyright under the Intellectual Property Office, dedicated to copyright policies and programs. Presently, our Intellectual Property Office only has an ad hoc team composed of two lawyers and about 10 support personnel manning the entire copyright system of the country. In contrast, South Korea has about 800. We urge everyone to support the passing of Senate Bill 2487 and lift Filipino creativity to the very top”, Dy added.

Attributing the author with due recognition is a basic in respecting intellectual property; here is an example.

Khalil Gibran, an internationally acclaimed philosopher and author may sound too noble and too ideal when he published the opening line. In all honesty, maybe the world can use a little of this nobility and idealism.