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Basa Pilipinas is USAID/Philippines flagship basic education project in support of the

Philippine Governments early grade reading program. Implemented in close collaboration
with the Department of Education (DepEd), Basa Pilipinas aims to improve the reading skills
for at least one million early grade students in Filipino, English and selected mother tongues.
This will be achieved by improving reading instruction, reading delivery systems, and access
to quality reading materials. The project commenced in January 2013 and will be
implemented for four years (2013-2016).
In its first year of implementation, Basa Pilipinas is focusing its activities in two DepEd
divisions in the provinces of La Union and Cebu. Three hundred sixty (360) master trainers
from both divisions were trained between June and July 2013 on key competencies outlined
under the content standards in the K to 12 Integrated Language Arts Curriculum. These
master trainers then led the mass teacher trainings for 5,100 grades 1 and 2 teachers and
school heads in La Union and Cebu held between July and September 2013.
Basa Pilipinas is also providing technical assistance to DepEd in the development of valid
and reliable early grade reading standards. The project increases advocacy for early grade
reading at the national level by coordinating efforts with private sector partners and
developing a unified plan for a national reading campaign. In close coordination with DepEd,
Basa Pilipinas provides teaching and learning resource materials and secures formal
partnership commitments from Brothers Brother Foundation, Petron Foundation and National
Bookstore Foundation in the acquisition and distribution of reading materials in project sites.
To improve the reading skills for at least one million early grade students in Filipino, English
and selected mother tongues.

Improve reading instruction

Improve reading delivery systems

Improve access to quality reading materials

Region 1:

Ilocos Norte Province

Ilocos Sur Province

La Union Province

Region VII:

Cebu Province

Bohol Province

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao:

Maguindanao Province

Last updated: September 21, 2015

Literacy in the Philippines: The Stories Behind the Numbers

| Aug 06, 2015

In the Philippines, the ability to read and write is a priority, so any effort to
promote literacy by the government, organizations, or even private individuals
is celebrated.
It is through literacy that one is empowered to interact in his community and
realizes his worth, what he can do and eventually make him do things that
contribute in sustainable development of his society, said Department of
Educations (DepEd) Literacy Coordinating Council OIC Dina Ocampo in a
speech during the 2014 National Literacy Conference and Awards.
That community progressively expanded, based on the countrys literacy
data collected through the national census. Results from the National
Statistics Offices 2010 Census of Population and Housing (CPH) show that
97.5% of the 71.5 million individuals who are 10 years old and older were
literate or could read and writean increase from the 2000 CPH record of
Prior to World War I, the literacy rate in the Philippines was at a dismal 20%.
But it was one of the countries that experienced rapid school expansion in the

late 1930s, according to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural

Organizations (UNESCO) 2006 Education for All Global Monitoring Report,
and, as a result, literacy rates rose to the middle range during the 1950s
(35%75%). UNESCO has said literacy transitions are linked to educational
The same findings echoed the observations of Dr. Michael Alba, a research
fellow and professor at De La Salle University-Manila. In his journal article,
Estimating Literacy Rate: A Study Relating Literacy Rate With Combined
Gross Elementary and Secondary Schools Enrollment Rate, he attributes
the growth of literacy rates in the Philippines to the formalization of the
education system there and its success in achieving its basic objective: to
prioritize literacy skills for students.
From the top
Shifts in the countrys education system were rooted in structural changes and
policymaking bodies throughout history.
The creation of regulation surrounding education took some 70 years to
evolve and 1960 and 1970 literacy data did not include education offered
outside regular classrooms, including community learning centers and public
halls, for out-of-school youths, dropouts, and differently abled (documented as
nonformal education). The establishment of the National Manpower and
Youth Council, the agency tracking nonformal education, Alba said, made a
huge impact on the 1980 literacy rate improvement to 91.79%, according to
UNESCO figures.
For John Arnold S. Siena, a director for the National Educators Academy of
the Philippines, part of DepEd, the high literacy rate in the country and the
95.24% school participation of children in elementary schooling were achieved
through the campaign of the government, particularly DepEd, to bring more
school-age children to school. He said initiatives that focused on this goal
include the following:

The Alternative Learning System, which provides opportunity for out-ofschool youths to use the education services of DepEd and take the
accreditation and equivalency test, paving the way for further education
Open high school and night school opportunities

Establishment of schools in areas without schools

The Kindergarten Law, which makes attending kindergarten a
Literacy-specific initiatives include the following:

Every Child A Reader Program, which mandates all schools, school

divisions, and regions to develop interventions addressing reading in schools
based on certain assessment techniques such as the Philippine Informal
Reading Inventory (Phil-IRI)

The Library Hub, established nationwide, in which a vast collection of

book titles appropriate for children of various ages is located and in which the
books are circulated in schools and made part of the learning competencies of
the children

A focus in K3 curriculum on language development, including reading

The mother tonguebased multilingual education as part of the K12

program (under this program, teachers are trained to teach mother tongue
competencies to prepare for learning of a second language)

Journalism program RA 7079, which offers teacher and student training

in journalism

Activities throughout the year, including Book Week and National

Reading Month
A shared goal
By 2000, organizations inside and outside of the Philippines measured youth
literacy rates between 95% and 96.6%.
The Philippines committed to Education for All (EFA) 2015 Goals at the World
Education Forum in Dakar, resulting in the Philippine EFA 2015 National
Action Plan, Functionally Literate Filipinos: An Educated Nation. This plan
focuses on achieving wider access to education and life skills programs, a
50% improvement in levels of adult literacy (age 15 and older), and
remarkable learning outcomes in literacy, numeracy, and essential life skills.

Siena said he provides continuous support to teachers and other personnel

critical to the reading program in schools. For example, the DepEd provides
training, support materials, and guidelines on how to operationalize early
literacy programs.
DepEd is currently finalizing the policy on Learning Action Cell implementation
and strengthening. According to Siena, this is envisioned as a sustainable
and cost-effective means of supporting teacher development. He added that
Learning Action Cells are group-based intervention toward improving teaching
practice, and that the reading program, especially in the K3 stage, will benefit
substantially from the intervention.
The Department of Education also seeks to develop more reading
experts from the ranks of teachers through scholarships, long-term
trainings, locally available or abroad, to help strengthen the reading
programs, Siena said.
But education reforms and literacy projects cannot be in the hands of DepEd
alone. Schools implement their own strategies to contribute to literacy
development, like the Reading Literacy Extension Program (RELP) of the
University of Northern Philippines (UNP) in Tamag, Vigan.
The effectiveness of RELP, as assessed by Ocarna Figuerres, provided
remarkable improvement, noting in particular the popularity of the program
and the growth of subsequent local literacy programs.
Book drives initiated by the private sector are also popular in the Philippines,
such as the Philippine Toy Library, which collects books, board games, and
even musical instruments; Sa Aklat Sisikat Foundation (With Books, One Will
Be Famous); and Books for a Cause, a movement that distributes books to
schools located in remote areas.
The teachers role
One more notable aspect about the project is that the lessons were tested
through demonstration lessons in the different schools of Naga City and were
revised to incorporate the collective suggestions and feedback of teachers,
says Anna Bella F. Abellera, an English teacher at Naga Central School I.
This project is really a huge collaborative effort of teachers and the city
officials and community as well.

Abellera believes that people should never give up on guiding and inspiring
children in achieving literacy.
It may be redundant to say, but I always ask myself, How many lives did I
touch lately? Or How many did I inspire today?