How 2 Organizations Are Improving Virtual Learning in the PhilippinesThe Philippines, a country with a weak education system, faces the issue of educating 28 million young students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual learning in the Philippines is particularly difficult for students from lower-income households. These students face financial and technological hurdles. According to a Filipino Department of Education survey, 20% of students who have access to the internet still need to go outside of the home for computer access. Many more students lack an internet connection.

Isy Faingold, chief of education at UNICEF, reported that the Philippines already had low reading comprehension scores before the pandemic. Among 79 countries, the Philippines ranked last. According to UNICEF, national emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, increase the number of students who drop out of school.

Public schools have adopted modular learning and blended learning styles since transitioning to virtual learning in the Philippines. In modular learning, teachers print out class materials for students to fill out at home and turn in later. Blended learning uses both online and offline methods of teaching. Schools are struggling to find a way to efficiently use available resources amid COVID-19. Currently, printing module packets has amounted to $1.9 billion. According to the Teachers Dignity Coalition in the Philippines, a national association for teachers, teachers are unable to meet the printing costs. Communicating with students through Facebook and text messaging also wears teachers out emotionally.

The Philippines Schools Project

Fortunately, the Philippines has organizations helping navigate the difficulties of virtual learning. The Philippines Schools Project is a small charity run by a couple who have family ties to the village of Botao. The couple’s work focuses on two schools in this rural and low-income area. They donate school resources as well as raise funds through various friends and connections from the U.K.

The couple has also provided furniture, equipment, school supplies, clothes and help with home improvement projects. Their charity began when they visited the Philippines on vacation and noticed the need for classroom upgrades and better sanitation in restrooms. When they returned to the U.K., the couple started shipping useful resources to help the schools.

After some time, the couple registered their work as a charity, allowing them to send monetary donations to be used for scholarships to send students to school. As costs grew, they invited their friends to help hold fundraising activities for the couple’s childhood town. The couple has been adamant about funneling all monetary gains back into the area. One of their initiatives included arranging for local craftsmen to build any required furniture, such as stands for computers and chairs for students. In this way, the Philippines Schools Project contributes back to the community in its operations to aid children’s learning.

Read Right Now (RRN)

The Education Development Center (EDC) funds the RRN program in the Philippines. The program provides training for educators in areas where there are few resources and impacted classrooms. The strategies and training modules reach beyond the classroom to connect with communities and students’ families to achieve learning goals. Students’ reading comprehension increased by 24% since the program was implemented, providing the program with quantifiable results. Exams provided additional results. Comparing students who participated in RRN with those that did not, 17% more passed reading fluency exams in the RRN program.

Modular and blended learning come with unforeseen difficulties, but the students’ and teachers’ struggles are mitigated by these sources of aid that supplement their education. Communication between the government and Filipino schools is vital. The added support from the Philippines Schools Project and EDC’s Read Right Now program have contributed fundamentally to virtual learning in the Philippines.

– Alyssa Ranola
Photo: Pexel

Education in the PhilippinesIn the Philippines, education has grown continuously over the years. However, the country continues to need improvement and educational reform throughout the provinces. Only half of children 3 to 4 years old are enrolled in daycare, and only 78% actually complete basic education. Only 13 out of 100 who enter Grade 1 complete their education, and less than 1% of Grade 6 children are academically ready for high school. The number of children out of school in the Philippines has reached 2.8 million. Furthermore, 40,000 teachers are sorely needed in the country.

These numbers show that there is still room for improvement. Educational access is vital for every child, and providing that for Filipino youth is a mission that many nonprofit organizations have taken up. Here are four organizations that are working to equalize and encourage education in the Philippines.

Education Foundation of the Philippines

Education Foundation of the Philippines has sponsored many elementary schools throughout the Philippines through its projects and has provided various resources to hundreds of students and teachers in the area. It has worked with Calapacuan Elementary, Batiawan Integrated School and Salvasion Elementary, and has also partnered with other organizations in the country to provide for the students. The resources it has provided are science materials that are used by all grades, math and reading materials and general school supplies.

The organizations it has worked with are God’s Little Lambs, Child Evangelism Fellowship and Quezon Hill Community Church. These partnerships work to provide their respective communities with adequate resources to help students succeed in their educational paths. They also advocate and raise awareness for the needs of school children in the Philippines. Together, they help to provide better education in the Philippines.

Teach for the Philippines

Teach for the Philippines believes in providing access to adequate education for Filipino children through enlisting young leaders as teachers in public schools. The country has a shortage of teachers, with 40,000 teachers needed in the Philippines. They focus on improving the quality of teachers and addressing systematic educational challenges. Teach for the Philippines uses a three core program to create teachers who improve student learning and spark the reform needed to transform public schools.

Teach for the Philippines has engaged over 300 leaders working toward expanding educational access and fostering change for education in the Philippines. Through its fellowship program, in place since 2013, over 10,000 public school students are reached annually. Its work has enabled children across the country to have better educational outcomes and access to previously inaccessible opportunities.

Room to Read

Room to Read reaches students all across Asia and Africa, with over 18 million children helped in 16 countries. It is an organization that focuses on children’s literacy and girls’ education. With the goal of encouraging learning and ending illiteracy, one way they have reached students is by distributing books. The group has recently published books in its 36th language, Filipino.

Room to Read provides books in Filipino to encourage Filipino children to develop reading skills and have confidence. The organization unveiled 20 new books at an event with the Department for Education, publishers, authors and more. These books share themes of personal challenge, inclusion and gender inequality. Room to Read has impacted children across the country and helps to reduce illiteracy through accessible books, helping education in the Philippines to flourish.

Save the Children

Save the Children has been working in the Philippines for over 30 years better children’s lives through access to equality education. They work with the government to develop policies and plans to ensure access and protection of children’s rights.

Sace the Children creates mother tongue books that have developmentally appropriate and culturally sensitive content. It established a Book Development Review Committee (BDRC), which ensures the process of choosing topics and languages includes tribal chieftains, community leaders. It also advocates and spreads awareness for educational issues, reaching over 145,000 people on its platforms. This organization also helps with other areas such as health and sanitation and natural disaster aid. Their programs have helped access to education in the Philippines.

In Conclusion

These four organizations show various ways people are working towards education equality in the Philippines. While the work they are doing is admirable, education equality for Filipino youth is an area that requires more aid and effort. Education in the Philippines will grow more robust and accessible as more organizations are created and  equalize the playing field for elementary and high schools students throughout the country.

Kiana Powers
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Boat of KnowledgeEach rainy season, the children of the barangay (small village) Darul-Akram in Languyan, Tawi-Tawi have a decision to make. For half the year, the path to school is blocked by a rushing, crocodile-infested river. To reach the school, children would have to cross the 60- to 100-meter wide river on rickety boats, risking their lives. Because of the perilous journey to reach school, many parents would force their children to stay home. The result of that decision is high dropout rates and a large population of children who never completed basic education. Regretfully, that was the norm. Each rainy season, parents would keep their children at home. However, everything changed with Vincent Durie’s “Boat of Knowledge.”

Creation, Concept and Impact of the “Boat of Knowledge”

Durie is a fellow of the Bangsamoro Young Leaders Program-Leadership Communities (BYLP-LeadCom). After discussing the safety concerns with both parents and teachers, he developed the “Boat of Knowledge” project. Along with his fellow leader, Tau-Spartan, he secured a grant. With the grant, he purchased a two-engine boat to ferry students to school.

The “Boat of Knowledge” project is two-pronged in its approach. The 30-person boat ferries both middle schools and high school students. It even makes as many as three trips back and forth to make sure that everyone gets to school. Meanwhile, along with ensuring that each student receives an education, the boat provides work for fishermen in the off-season, helping to stimulate the economy of this small village.

Today, 99 percent of students in Darul-Akram are logging regular school hours.

Education in the Philippines

Although the nation has a substantial economy, the education program within the Philippines is heavily underfunded. Education is often hindered by shortages in textbooks and buildings. As a result, only 78 percent of students complete the basic level of education. In fact, fewer complete any secondary level of education. In addition, absenteeism is a major problem. Without any serious structure for evaluating attendance, millions of children do not go to school. Currently, 2.8 million Filipino children are not in school.

The Ayala Foundation: Providing the Spark

Durie’s project is part of the Ayala Foundation, a nonprofit based in the Philippines that seeks to connect the growing business market with communities across the country. Its goal is to create creative, self-reliant and self-sustaining communities all across the Phillippines. To do so, the Ayala Foundation helps to build bridges that connect different sectors of the market, acting as a catalyst for cooperation.

The Ayala Foundation created the initiative BYLP-LeadCom. The initiative seeks to use the energy of Filipino youth to create positive change in communities. One change, for example, is supporting Durie with his “Boat of Knowledge.” Today, BYLP-LeadCom operates in five different provinces across the Philippines.

Certainly, Durie’s “Boat of Knowledge” is simple. However, by providing children an opportunity to gain an education during the rainy season, Durie and the Tau-Spartans have opened a world of possibilities for the children of Darul-Akram.

– Andrew Edwards
Photo: Flickr

work that supports education in the PhilippinesThough the Philippines’ schooling system has significantly evolved in past years, many Filipinos still find challenges in receiving a quality education. The World Bank believes that increasing education opportunities could economically benefit the Philippines as well. Here is a list of work that supports education in the Philippines.

  1. PETC Workers Help Repair a Philippine School
    On July 1, 2016, the Lear Philippine Engineering and Technology Center (PETC) reported its work to support the Philippines’ “Brigade Eskwela” (Brigade for Education). Seventy engineers and associates painted a wall and classroom at Maguikay Elementary school. The volunteers also repaired some of the classroom’s amenities. The PETC put up a donation box at the school and received books, four sets of wall fans and $150 in contributions for incoming students’ school supplies.
  2. The Philippines’ Successful K-12 Reform
    In August 2016, the Philippines’ long-running K-12 education reform efforts helped 1.5 million students attend eleventh grade for the first time. The Philippines’ new K-12 law adds two years of senior high school, eleventh and twelfth grade, to the country’s required education system.
    Contrary to the number of students who completed the tenth grade in 2015, almost 50,000 more enrolled in the new eleventh grade for 2016. The change was especially significant since the Philippines was originally one of a few countries with a 10-year basic education system.
  3. UNESCO Helps the Philippines’ Department of Education
    In September 2016, UNESCO met with the Philippines’ Department of Education and thanked it for its continued cooperation in various activities. Dr. Leonor Magtolis, the department’s secretary, thanked UNESCO for its work that supports education in the Philippines. Magtolis also thanked UNESCO for its initiative to start an alternative learning system (ALS) for the Philippines. Magtolis believed that an ALS would be especially helpful for Filipino school children in rehabilitation centers.
  4. The Philippines’ Zero Dropout Education Scheme
    In December 2016, the Ernst and Young (EY) firm revealed its support for the Philippines’ Zero Dropout Education Scheme (ZeDrES). From 2011 to 2016, ZeDrES ensured that 250,000 Filipino children from low-income families could enroll in and complete primary education, providing them with microloans to afford their expenses. EY’s team audits ZeDrES’s financial statements and assesses its delivery and impact.
  5. The Success of USAID’s STRIDE Program
    In September 2013, USAID awarded RTI International a cooperative agreement called Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for Development (STRIDE) that would enhance the Philippines’ economic and educational sector. In April 2017, STRIDE awarded $5 million in technology, collaborative science and research grants to more than 20 million Philippine universities. In addition to awarding 46 scholarships to help Filipinos study in U.S. universities, STRIDE is creating technology offices in 36 Philippine universities.
  6. Free Tuition for 100 Philippine Colleges
    In August 2017, President Rodrigo Duerte signed a bill that grants free tuition for 100 colleges and state universities in the Philippines. Though President Duerte knew that the new law would have heavy short-term costs, he was more focused on its long-term benefits to Philippine students. A senior official said that the new law will benefit the Philippines’ local tertiary schools as well. “Now I can finish my college education. It means hard work,” said Angela Rebato, a student from Quezon City.

Volunteer work, funding and free tuition can continue to help Philippine students break educational barriers. PETC, UNESCO, USAID and other entities continue to inspire more work that supports education in the Philippines as well.

– Rhondjé Singh Tanwar

Photo: Flickr

Technology has helped create a learning landscape that expands the access of education to citizens living in rural villages and children living in poverty. Enrollment numbers are rising, but children are not learning enough when they enter school. Some children are not able to attend school or drop out because their families face financial challenges that keep them from learning and sometimes have to join the workforce.

Mobile phones help increase literacy rates in developing countries by providing access to reading materials. There are 123 million youth who cannot read or write and most of them do not have any access to books. Schools in Sub-Saharan Africa lack the resources to have textbooks for their students.

UNESCO found that many parents read stories to their children from mobile phones and that it helps empower women as they read six times more than men on their mobile devices.

Liza Villanueva, an Anaheim resident, had another idea for mobile learning: a mobile learning bus that travels between cities.

She created an international foundation to help children in rural villages without access to education in the Philippines through a Girl Scout Project. Her community service requirement through the Girl Scout’s Gold Award created an opportunity for Villanueva to invest her time in helping children. Therefore, the iDream Express was created in the Philippines with the support of local churches volunteering to keep the program running to provide access to education in the Philippines.

Villanueva, who is getting ready for her freshman year in college, travels to the Philippines to visit her family. She found out many of the children on the street were not attending school and developed the learning center to provide access to education for these children.

The organization is only a year old, but Villanueva says that there are about 30 children who show up at the different locations for education from the iDream Express. One challenge is that many children wander from city to city because of their living conditions on the street, which makes it hard to keep track of who is showing up to fulfill educational needs.

“I feel that every country is in need of mobile learning centers because education is not accessible, provided for, or enforced everywhere,” says Villanueva. “I plan to expand iDream Express globally, but next in line are Mexico and India.”

The Philippines ranks 80th in the world in access to basic knowledge. 88.2 percent of people are enrolled in primary school, and 75.8 percent are enrolled in upper secondary education. There are still six million young people who are not enrolled in school in the Philippines.

To help Villanueva expand education in the Philippines and around the world, you can donate to the cause on the iDream Express Crowdrise page.

Donald Gering

Sources: GSMA, The Guardian, OC Register, Social Progress Imperative, UNESCO
Photo: YASC

books about poverty
Despite tremendous progress over the past few decades in eradicating global poverty, nearly a fifth of the world still lives on less than $1.25 a day. In recent years, a number of economists, academics, and political analysts have published books providing insight into the causes, effects, and solutions to global poverty. Here are some top books about global poverty that particularly stand out:

The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It (2007)

By Paul Collier

“Economist and Africa expert Collier analyzes why a group of 50 nations, home to the poorest one billion people, are failing. Considering issues such as civil war, dependence on extractive industries, and bad governance, he argues that the strongest industrialized countries must enact a plan to help with international policies and standards.” – Amy Lockwood, Stanford Social Innovation Review

Creating a World Without Poverty (2007)

By Muhammad Yunus

“As founder of Grameen Bank, Yunus pioneered microcredit, the innovative banking program that provides poor people mainly women with small loans they use to launch businesses and lift their families out of poverty. Now, in Creating a World Without Poverty, Yunus goes beyond microcredit to pioneer the idea of social business – a completely new way to use the creative vibrancy of business to tackle social problems from poverty and pollution to inadequate health care and lack of education.” – Yunus Centre

The Beautiful Tree: A Personal Journey into How the World’s Poorest People Are Educating Themselves (2009)

By James Tooley

The Beautiful Tree “tells the remarkable story of author James Tooley’s travels travels from Africa to Asia, and of the children, parents, teachers, and others who showed him how the poor are building their own schools and learning to save themselves.” –The Cato Institute

The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time (2006)

By Jeffrey Sachs

“Sachs outlines a detailed plan to help the poorest of the poor reach the first rung on the ladder of economic development. By increasing aid significantly to provide the basic infrastructure and human capital for markets to work effectively, Sachs argues such investment is not only economically sound but a moral imperative.” – Amy Lockwood, Stanford Social Innovation Review

The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good (2006)

By William Easterly

“Easterly, a celebrated economist, presents one side in what has become an ongoing debate with fellow star-economist Jeffrey Sachs about the role of international aid in global poverty. Easterly argues that existing aid strategies have not and will not reduce poverty, because they don’t seriously take into account feedback from those who need the aid and because they perpetuate western colonial tendencies.” – Amy Lockwood, Stanford Social Innovation Review

The Wealth and Poverty of Nations (1998)

By David Landes

“The Wealth and Poverty of Nations is David S. Landes’s acclaimed, best-selling exploration of one of the most contentious and hotly debated questions of our time: Why do some nations achieve economic success while others remain mired in poverty? The answer, as Landes definitively illustrates, is a complex interplay of cultural mores and historical circumstance.” – W.W. Norton & Company, Inc

Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits (2006)

By C.K Pralahad

“Explaining that the world’s five billion poor make up the the fastest growing market in the world, Prahalad shows how this segment has vast untapped buying power, and represents an enormous potential for companies who learn how to serve this market by providing the poor with that they need.” – Amazon

Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail (2009)

By Paul Polak

“Polak, a psychiatrist, has applied a behavioral and anthropological approach to alleviating poverty, developed by studying people in their natural surroundings. He argues that there are three mythic solutions to poverty eradication: donations, national economic growth, and big businesses. Instead, he advocates helping the poor earn money through their own efforts of developing low-cost tools that are effective and profitable.” – Amy Lockwood, Stanford Social Innovation Review

Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa (2009)

By Dambisa Moyo

“Moyo, a Zambia-born economist, asserts that aid is not only ineffective—it’s harmful. Her argument packs a strong punch because she was born and raised in Africa. Moyo believes aid money promotes the corruption of governments and the dependence of citizens, and advocates that an investment approach will do more to help reduce poverty than aid ever could.” – Amy Lockwood, Stanford Social Innovation Review

– Katrina Beedy

Sources: Stanford Social Innovation Review, Flavor Wire, Muhammad Yunus, WW Norton, Amazon
Photo: Cheryl Ann Skolnicki

According to the Department of Budget and Management, The Department of Education in the Philippines (DepED) has recently been granted the primary sum of the Philippines’ social services budget for 2014. The Philippines is facing huge concerns with a lack of teachers, textbooks, classrooms; it also faces an exceptionally high dropout rate.

Low budgets have made it difficult to extend an education in the Philippines to an increasingly high population of children. A total of 309.43 billion Philippine pesos ($18.6 billion,) or 37 percent, has been allotted to DepED after the country determined the issues with their public education system.

A large portion of the DepED money will now be focused on incorporating technology and alternative learning systems in the classroom in hopes of integrating out-of-school children; the initiative is called the Enhanced Instructional Management for Parents, Community and Teachers (e-IMPACT,) originally established in the fiscal year 2007-2008.

The fund is also comprised of 44.6 billion Philippine pesos ($1.00316 billion) for repairing and constructing new school buildings. The DepED will be building 43,183 new classrooms, fixing 9,502 of the existing classrooms and constructing 1.59 million new schoolroom seats for the Kindergarten through 12th grade programs.

The plan will add 10 new libraries will be added to the 213 current centers; each will be supplied with new books. In hopes of reaching the goal of 1:1 student to textbook ratio, the Department of Education in the Philippines hopes to attain “42 million more textbooks and workbooks.”

e-IMPACT is a technology based alternative method of learning that is fueled by student interactions. Every student is given access to online modules and online guides to learning materials. The modules will open a window into how children are able to learn and communicate with each other and will allow parents and school faculty to become increasingly involved in ensuring that the e-IMPACT positively transforms the community. Everyone in the community will be engaged and learning with the students.

By incorporating e-IMPACT and repairing classrooms, DepED hopes to promote global mainstreaming and expansion of primary education, part of the second Millennium Development Goals. e-IMPACT will attempt to incorporate children who have dropped out of school and seeks to keep children in school who are at risk of dropping out.

– Rebecca Felcon

Photo: Josh Weinstein
Sources: Asia Pacific Future Gov, TaosPuso Foundation, Manila Bulliten