By Aila Kate I. Moreno
The Department of Education (DepEd) and USAID Philippines celebrated their joint achievements in enhancing the early grade learning in the country amidst the pandemic through a virtual conference last August 13, 2021.
DepEd and USAID joined forces for the implementation of the ABC+: Advancing Basic Education in the Philippines Project that aims to improve reading and literacy, math, and social and emotional skills for early grade children (Kindergarten to Grade 3) in Region V (Bicol), Region VI (Western Visayas), and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
“By working together, we have supported DepEd in implementing innovative strategies to improve early grade literacy, numeracy, and socio-emotional learning. Through ABC+, we will work together to reach up to two million students in Regions V, VI and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” said Sean Callahan, Acting Mission Director of USAID Philippines.
The ABC+ program is geared towards boosting the early literacy of children in their mother tongue. It also prepares their reading ability for transition to Filipino and English. The program develops their foundational concepts and skills in math as well.
In addition, ABC+ reinforces instructional processes concerned with the children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development. Teachers are also trained to enact appropriate remedial measures to handle the reading gaps among children and transform them to become “reading ready” during the school year.
USAID aided the DepEd’s Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan at the early grade level through strategies that guarantee access to quality education. By the end of the project, it aims to attain:
Improved early grade instruction and delivery systems;
Improved access to quality materials and;
Improved education system capacity and commitment to manage and implement interventions supporting effective early grade instruction.
The joint venture has already distributed almost four million supplementary reading materials to more than 250,000 students; developed and adapted nearly 500 leveled readers in several mother tongue languages and English; trained over 10,000 teachers, supervisors, and school administrators; and produced 64 television-based and radio-based instructional materials.
“ABC+ is an example of the many initiatives that made the school year 2020 and 2021 possible. A collaboration with USAID, this partnership covering Regions V and VI and a division of Maguindanao focuses on improving reading and literacy of math and social and emotional skills for early grade children…. today we will witness a glimpse of the success of this partnership that has helped us achieve what we were able to do during the past year,” said DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones.
Briones espoused that embracing innovation is a must to “develop innovative solutions” that will help in addressing the challenges in the education sector.
The partnership also introduced the NEAP Professional Development Information System that enables teachers to participate in training programs, take pre-tests and post-tests, complete evaluations, and receive their certificates online.
The ABC+ project started last June 2019 until June 2024. It was made possible by the collaboration of USAID, DepEd, RTI International, The Asia Foundation, SIL LEAD, Florida State University, and Brattle Publishing Group.