September 16, 2020 – The Department of Education (DepEd) tapped United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to assist in the implementation of the Basic Education-Learning Continuity Plan to Kindergarten to Grade 3 students through ABC+ project.

Started last July 2019, ABC+ project is a 5-year partnership of USAID and DepEd that aims to improve literacy, numeracy, and social and emotional learning aforementioned grade levels, especially that the School Year 2020-2021 will be conducted through distance learning.

“The project started in July of 2019 and by March 2020, we have been able to conduct our consultations with DepEd field and central office personnel for guidance on priority areas. We have also been able to conduct our baseline studies,” said Ina Aquino, USAID’s Chief of Party during the Handang Isip, Handa Bukas Virtual Press Conference.

“Having received our training recognition from the NEAP [National Educators Academy of the Philippines], we were ready to roll out in the summer period but like everyone else, we had to pivot, adjust, and adapt when the pandemic was declared. We made a few but a very major adjustment to our way of working,” Aquino added.

The partnership has paved for the conduct of online training to almost 4,500 teachers on how to strategize learning and to conduct the transition from school to home study. The initiative also developed home learning guides and learner activity sheets as part of the scheme.

“One of the schools, in fact, reported that they have already used the materials from the training to in turn train parents and other home learning facilitators. So, natutuwa po kami roon. Nagamit na nila at na-train na po ‘yong ibang mga parents,” Aquino added.

The project, in collaboration with the DepEd field offices, was able to determine a set of rapid assessment tools to determine the learners’ reading level to apply all the necessary interventions.

The partnership has also assured that materials created by the project are matched with DepEd’s Most Essential Learning Competencies (MELCs) and digitized version will be uploaded to the DepEd Commons for wider access.

As part of the preparations for the opening of classes, the project also aims to help the Department in gathering all the necessary feedback from the field by creating a platform and various technical assistance in figuring out learning delivery modalities, especially to K-3 learners.

In a recorded statement, Joenill Rubios, a parent of students from Parang Elementary School in Camarines Norte, also shared his realization on the existing challenges in the education sector, especially in critical times like what everyone is experiencing right now.

“Sa kabila ng napakaraming hamon na aking nakita at nakikita, mas klaro pa rin sa akin ang gusto kong makamtan. ‘Yon ay ang magandang kinabukasan ng aking mga anak na makukuha nila sa pamamagitan ng isang magandang edukasyon,” said Rubios, who was also trained by the program.

Furthermore, they will also continue assisting all the teachers, and school heads, especially the parents, who will play a key role in delivering relevant and inclusive education amidst the new normal.

“We salute all unnamed frontliners in the communities, school heads, teachers, parents, and community workers. We, at ABC+, through the support of USAID, are here to support the DepEd and the communities they serve,” said Aquino.

Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones expressed her gratitude to all the partner organizations who portioned their resources on the DepEd’s initiative in facing an extraordinary school year.

“This is why we decided this session, we would feature among the few of those many groups and institutions who have reached out to us, who have volunteered and who have offered their experience, their learnings, their facilities to help out in the challenges of education,” shared Secretary Briones.