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Tech-based Reading Programme in the Philippines

The U.S. has had a significant influence on the Philippine education system early on. It’s therefore very timely that once again, the Americans are contributing to the improving the education of the country’s young people again. Indeed, education is exactly one of the ways the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) can make possible its mandate of extending assistance to countries recovering from disaster, trying to escape poverty and engaging in democratic reforms.

USAID Philippines Mission Director Ryan Washburn visited Negros Occidental, a province in Central Visayas, to do just that. The agency, through its flagship ABC+: Advancing Basic Education in the Philippines project launched the Beginning Reading Programme. Specifically, it’s a technology-based learning programme that uses low-cost electronic tablets called Learn Kernels to help children in Kindergarten to Grade 3 learn to read.

In partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd) and an American company, USAID turned over 300 Learn Kernels preloaded with USAID-developed early grade reading materials in various mother tongue languages.

What makes these electronic tablets so useful is they can be used remotely, even without the internet. It’s definitely a great leap forward. Doing so will help children access education, regardless of their location and connectivity.

It is universally accepted that reading is a fundamental tool for thinking and learning. It has an integrated and cumulative effect on comprehension in all subject areas. Washburn denoted that the goal of the programme is to ensure that no child is left behind in learning.

To drive his case, he also read a USAID-developed storybook to local children and handed over Hiligaynon and Sinugbuanong Binisaya language reading materials to Lacson and DepEd Region 6 Assistant Director Pedro Escobarte.

Indeed, USAID is doing its best to make education happen for young Filipino children. Since the pandemic began, it has provided nearly 1.5 million early grade reading materials in these mother tongue languages to students in Western Visayas.

Washburn launched the technology-based reading programme for early-grade learners as part of an event marking World Water Day. In celebration of World Water Day, Washburn joined National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Undersecretary Roderick M. Planta and a host of personalities from both the private and public sector for a ceremonial tree planting. The event was to celebrate the first anniversary of the Partnership for Water and Economic Resilience (P4WatER).

P4WatER is a four-year watershed conservation project in partnership with the private sector and the Multisectoral Alliance for Development-Negros. Its goal is to rehabilitate watershed areas and provide sustainable livelihood to rice and sugar farmers.

Moreover, USAID has also supported the Negros Occidental provincial government in developing its first water security plan.

When we protect forests, watersheds, and water resources, we also protect communities from climate risks, and more importantly, we provide them with the means to recover and rebuild their lives from the negative impacts of climate change.

– Ryan Washburn, Mission Director, U.S. Agency for International Development

Increasingly, America is a major technology partner in the country’s bid for digital adoption. Recently, Philippine bankers learned cybersecurity best practices from American experts. Also, it has engaged some of the best-known companies in the American ICT industry to help in the upcoming national elections this May as reported on OpenGov Asia.

Digital technology is truly making progress happen in the Philippines. Knowing how essential connectivity is in the country’s bid to be part of Industry 4.0, Manila is involving one of the world’s leading space technology companies to spread the internet all over the country using satellites.


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