‘BOOKS TO EDUCATE’: USAID distributes reading materials in Western Visayas

USAID Philippines Legal Officer Michelle Mcleod and DepEd-6 Regional Director Dr. Ramir Uytico together with the young learners and teachers from Montes II Elementary School during the handover of classroom learning packages on Thursday, Sept 8, 2022, in Iloilo City.

By John Noel E. Herrera

As learners return to face-to-face classes for the first time in more than two years, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) handed over reading materials to recipients in Western Visayas through the ABC+: Advancing Basic Education in the Philippines project.

The Montes II Elementary School in Iloilo City was one of the first recipients of the first batch of materials for the region this year.

515 pupils from Kindergarten to Grade 3 received their reading materials on Thursday, Sept 8, 2022.

All the young learners from Kindergarten through Grade 3 in the said school thanked the visitors as they were all smiles and excited to open the books as soon as they received them.

“They were really happy. We give these books to students from K through 3 (Kindergarten through Grade 3) as USAID partnered with ABC+ basically to increase the literacy of students here in the Philippines,” USAID Philippines Resident Legal Officer Michelle Mcleod said in an interview.

Mcleod added that they are committed and supportive of DepEd’s initiatives and “will continue exploring avenues to ensure that the target two million learners in its implementing areas will become successful readers and develop their full potential.”

ABC+ Chief of Party Ina Aquino also said that for the first half of the school year, they are going to give away 7.5 million units of books worth P38 million pesos in Western Visayas alone.

“For the second half, we’ll give a bit more, almost double or the same as the first half in the whole of Western Visayas,” Aquino added.

The reading materials, which include picture books, storybooks, and leveled readers, are written in the mother tongue, 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.

“It is really fun stories that children will love so that they can start to love reading as well. So, it is also building their literacy and so they are developmentally appropriate and they are increasing in complexity as it begins in simple words, simple sentences, that is why they are called leveled readers,” Aquino said.

Department of Education (DepEd)-6 Regional Director Dr. Ramir B. Uytico said that the project is good knowing how important reading is in imparting knowledge to young learners, as well as improving the skills of the students.

“This is timely with the celebration of Literacy Day and this has been emphasized by our new secretary of Education that we need to produce children who are really readers, so the focus is on literacy, numeracy, and aside from that, for the region, we really want to produce champion learners and for our teachers, if we want champion learners, our teachers too should be champions,” Uytico added.

Meanwhile, aside from the reading materials, there are also trainings that will be conducted for all the K through 3 teachers “on how to use the materials and how to provide instructional support to their learners.”

The ABC+ program aims to boost the early literacy of children in their mother tongue, as well as to prepare their reading ability for transition to Filipino and English, and develop their foundational concepts and skills in Mathematics.

ABC+ also reinforces instructional processes concerned with the children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development as teachers are also trained to enact appropriate remedial measures to handle the reading gaps among children and transform them to become “reading ready” as classes start.

USAID aided the DepEd’s Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan at the early grade level through strategies that guarantee access to quality education as it also aims to improve early grade instructions and delivery systems; improve all access to quality materials, and improve educational system capacity and commitment to manage and implement interventions supporting effective early grade instructions.