As children return to school in person for the first time in more than two years, the United States government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), handed over 540,000 early grade reading materials valued at Php 27 million ($489,000) to the Department of Education (DepEd) in the Bicol region.
USAID Philippines Acting Deputy Mission Director Jennifer Crow and USAID Philippines Education Director Dr. Thomas LeBlanc led the handover alongside DepEd Regional Director Gilbert Sadsad and other education officials at the Sto. Domingo Central School and Salvacion Elementary School in Albay province on August 22.
“We are working with DepEd so that children who are returning to school have access to age- and context-appropriate learning resources,” Education Director Dr. LeBlanc said. “Our presence here today affirms USAID’s support and commitment to our shared vision of improving education outcomes for Filipino children.”
These books represent the first batch of materials that USAID is providing to DepEd this school year as part of USAID’s Advancing Basic Education in the Philippines (ABC+) project. More than 1.2 million early grade reading materials will be distributed to close to 7,000 public schools in Region V (Bicol), Region VI (Western Visayas), and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in the coming months to benefit 1.2 million Filipino children, bringing the total value of support through the ABC+ project to Php 63 million ($1,123,000).
These reading materials, which include picture books, storybooks, and leveled readers, are written in mother tongue languages, English, and Filipino to address gaps in the reading practices of young learners and help students in kindergarten through grade 3 develop foundational reading skills.
“The continued support given by USAID’s ABC+ project inspires us. As we receive help from stakeholders, we Bicolanos can give more for the sake of education,” DepEd Regional Director Sadsad said. “We superintendents, assistant schools division superintendents, chiefs, and everyone must really lead in implementing these programs.”
For the past two school years, USAID, through the ABC+ project in partnership with DepEd, has already distributed over 11 million copies of reading materials to kindergarten to grade 3 children in the three regions covered by the program. These materials were developed in collaboration with DepEd to ensure quality and relevance to Filipino early grade learners.