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PIA Press Release

USAID provides workbooks to 61,000 schoolchildren in Mindanao

Zamboanga City (September 5) -- USAID's Education Quality and Access for Learning and Livelihood Skills (EQuALLS2) Project has provided more than 61,000 elementary school students in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with workbooks in English and mathematics this school year.

The workbooks were developed by the Synergeia Foundation, an EQuALLS implementing partner, and were given to public elementary school students in grades one, two and three in the municipalities of Barira and North Upi in Shariff Kabunsuan, Datu Paglas in Maguindanao, Marawi City, Indanan and Siasi in Sulu, and Bongao and Panglima Sugala in Tawi-Tawi.

Each of the 61,000 pupils received workbooks in Reading and Math to alleviate the scarcity of textbooks in public elementary schools.

Designed to complement DepEd textbooks, the workbooks cover lessons for the entire school year and feature exercises meant to take the pupils to higher levels of learning and to test if they have improved their mastery of the subjects.

"These materials have been found to reinforce learning inside the classroom by providing each student with work exercises on their day-to-day lessons," said Bongao Mayor Albert Que during the distribution of workbooks to schoolchildren of Datu Halun Elementary School in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi.

Dr. Thomas Kral, USAID's Senior Education Officer, says, "We have seen sustained improvement in the reading and math capability of the elementary school students enrolled in the municipalities where Synergeia is working. This has resulted in students having greater self esteem and confidence. As a result, it is more likely that these children will stay in school."

The materials have been credited by school heads as instrumental in raising the scores of primary school children in Math and making the transition from non-readers to effective, and fast readers.

Thomas Crehan, Chief of the Office of Education of USAID observes, "we see here an exemplary situation of local government officials being directly involved with children's basic education," citing the municipalities of North Upi, Bongao, Datu Paglas, Siasi, and other towns covered by Synergeia as among the active supporters of the reading program. "Local government involvement is critical in mobilizing community support. When the townspeople see that their mayor is seriously working towards providing better education for the children, it becomes easier to convince parents and other community members to do the same," he added.

In North Upi, the reading program supported by USAID reduced the number of non-readers from a high of 87 percent in 2005 to 16 percent by the end of the school year in 2007. This means that when the program started only 2 out of 10 pupils had appropriate readings skills and the rest were non-readers. This year, about 8 out of 10 pupils in grade 2 and 3 now have appropriate reading skills.

School heads and teachers were also given their own copies of the workbooks accompanied by a teachers' manual in both subjects. These teachers' manuals are equipped with daily lesson plans that unburden teachers of the task of daily lesson plan preparation, allowing them to devote more energy in devising creative ways to make learning more fun and interesting for their students.

"The workbooks are a big help to our pupils. The parents themselves acknowledged this during our PTCA meeting. The workbooks make it easier for them to follow-up on the lessons of their children. And the kids enjoy studying more because they each have their own copy," Mary Ann Oliva, School Principal and also a parent of a Grade One student, Batu-Batu Central Elementary School in Panglima Sugala attests.

"Even the teachers find the manuals very useful in their daily lessons. Ginagamit talaga nila yung manual kaya mas maganda ang presentation ng mga lesson (They really use the manuals that's why the presentation of lessons are made even better), the principal added.

On the other hand, May-Ann Abibin, parent of a Grade Two student, Batu-Batu Central Elementary School relates how the supplementary materials have helped in her child's school performance. "Mas madali para sa anak ko mag-review ng lesson dahil sa workbook kaya gumanda rin performance niya sa klase. Pangalawang taon na siyang nakatanggap ng mga workbook. Nag-umpisa nung Grade One siya. Malaking tulong talaga." (My child's school performance has improved a lot as she is now able to review her lessons. It's now her second time to receive the workbooks, the first time was in Grade 1. It's really a big help.)

This is the third year that the USAID-EQuALLS project has provided children's workbooks and teachers' manuals in the ARMM. Over the past three years, EQuALLS, in partnership with the Synergeia Foundation, has provided educational materials to a total of 125,335 elementary school students in the ARMM, which is home to the lowest rates of literacy and school participation in the Philippines due to poverty and ongoing conflict. EQuALLS

Since 2004, EQuALLS has partnered with Synergeia Foundation in providing educational assistance to schoolchildren and their teachers through distribution of workbooks and manuals while tapping LGUs. The assistance has resulted to improve reading skills in ARMM's low-literacy rate areas, from Marawi City to as far as Tawi-Tawi. (PIA Z.C. / EQuALLS)

WORKBOOKS FOR EVERYONE. USAID Office of Education Chief Thomas Crehan (second from left) and Bongao Mayor Albert Que (extreme right) lead the distribution of workbooks to Grade One schoolchildren of Datu Halun Elementary School in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi.

FROM NON-READERS TO READERS. Grade One students in the island of Siasi, Sulu show off their new workbooks on Reading Readiness. USAID's Education Quality and Access for Learning and Livelihood Skills (EQuALLS2) Project has helped increase the number of effective, fast readers among Grades One, Two, and Three students in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) through the provision of reading workbooks on a one is to one ratio. (PIA) [top]

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