US to provide P126 million for Philippines basic education

Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star
US to provide P126 million for Philippines basic education
More than 27.7 million Filipino children and youth are at risk of significant learning loss due to extended school closure and disruption during the pandemic.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman, File photo

MANILA, Philippines — The US will provide $2.5 million (about P126 million) to help the Philippines implement the basic education learning continuity plan amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the US embassy said yesterday.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is partnering with the Department of Education (DepEd) to ensure that teachers continue to teach and children still learn while schools are closed. 

USAID’s P1.9-billion basic education project – ABC+: Advancing Basic Education in the Philippines – organized and facilitated consultations among education partners to identify and roll out innovative teaching and learning platforms.

The ABC+project will help improve the basic life skills of grade school students in Eastern and Western Visayas and in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. 

By investing in quality education in the early grades, USAID is helping young Filipinos gain knowledge and skills they need to unlock their full potential, succeed in life and contribute to their families, communities and society. 

Teachers will be provided with instruction strategies and learning materials that are designed for use in both school and home learning environments.

USAID will also assist DepEd to develop rapid, easy-to-use assessment tools for teachers to gauge and support students’ literacy skills once they are able to return to school.

“The US government, through USAID, remains committed in ensuring young students have the opportunity to continue to learn despite the challenges that COVID-19 has created,” USAID mission director Lawrence Hardy said.

More than 27.7 million Filipino children and youth are at risk of significant learning loss due to extended school closure and disruption during the pandemic.

Students in the early grades are particularly vulnerable to learning loss because they need significant support from parents, teachers and caregivers. 

This is also a critical stage in young children’s education as they develop literacy, numeracy and social-emotional skills, which are foundations for lifelong learning.

To assist parents and caregivers, USAID will support the design of activities that parents can implement at home. It will strengthen the capacity of teachers in supporting parents in giving effective home learning activities. 

USAID will also partner with private sector and local media companies, particularly in disseminating information on how to help children continue learning during school closures.

The US has been supporting Philippine education programs for more than 50 years by working with DepEd and other education partners.

Textbooks over radios

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto is seeking a “one book per student” ratio in public schools, noting that a complete set of textbooks at home is needed by children to cope with online classes.

“Broadband learning does not cancel the need for books. On the contrary, it makes it imperative. Not because there will be internet, it doesn’t mean there will be no instructional materials,” Recto said.

“If there will be no laptop, no signal, no books, what will happen to our learners?” he added.

Recto said that while internet speed is beyond the powers of DepEd to resolve, enough books is something that the education department can provide, if given the resources.

“If we can print money, why can’t we print books? The ones public school students are using cost as little as P50. If there’s money for transistor radios, there should be money for books,” he said.

Recto expressed concern that the inventory of books in public schools is not enough to meet the desired 1:1 book-to-learner ratio.

“Classes were suspended, students find it difficult to return their books, so there is low retrieval rate,” Recto said. Cecille Suerte Felipe

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