October 27, 2021—The Department of Education (DepEd) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) highlighted their programs for digital inclusion and gender equality in basic education during their partnership program on October 14.

“We would like to express our appreciation to USAID for thinking about our disadvantaged learners, and for upholding the rights to equal and quality education for all Filipino children,” Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones expressed.

In 2020, DepEd and USAID developed 200 literacy primers and interactive e-books in 11 mother-tongue languages across the Philippines. Upon uploading in the DepEd Commons as part of e-resources, the e-books have been downloaded more than 11,000 times by teachers and learners.

USAID has also sponsored 16 DepEd TV episodes for Grades 2 and 3, which are culturally acceptable in content, and formulated to promote gender fairness and gender equality. For this year, USAID is planning to sponsor 16 more episodes from Kindergarten to Grade 3.

“Technology is already bringing about a profound transformation in education in ways we see unfolding before our very own eyes and in new ways that we haven’t dreamt of yet. With the support of USAID and All Children Reading Philippines, we are also achieving another milestone towards inclusive education for all,” Undersecretary for Administration Alain Del Pascua shared.

Moving forward, DepEd and USAID are set to include Filipino sign language insets in over 200 DepEd TV episodes to promote inclusivity for learners with sight, speech, and hearing impairments. The partnership also eyes to convert over 200 DepEd TV episodes to Radio-based Instruction materials and translate over 50 DepEd TV episodes into mother tongue language.

“There will be no gender equality as long as there is a gender gap in connectivity, skills, jobs, online safety, and without addressing the digital divide,” USAID Director for Philippine Education Office Thomas D. LeBlanc said in his statement.

USAID also expressed its support for the empowerment of girls by creating programs that encourage breaking gender stereotypes in learning and empowering girls to claim their rights to digital inclusion.

“DepEd is committed to sustaining these initiatives and scaling this up with the competencies required in the curriculum, and of course, delivering these to the hands of our learners and teachers using television, online platforms, and radios,” Information and Communications Technology Service Director Abram Abanil said.