The Government of Japan and UNICEF Philippines turned over 400 educational tablets containing digital learning materials in select mother tongues of Eastern Visayas to support at least 800 Samar and Norther Samar learners classified as non-readers and struggling readers.
As young children learn most effectively in their mother tongue, the tablets will be provided to Grades 1 to 3 learners of 30 schools to support the development of their foundational skills in early literacy. This is part of the UNICEF-supported Learning Recovery Programme being rolled out by the Department of Education (DepEd) Region VIII, which aims to mitigate learning loss caused by school closures during the lockdowns in the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aside from the digital learning materials, Japan and UNICEF are also supporting the development of the Comprehensive Rapid Literacy Assessment in Mother Tongue and the training needed to effectively utilize the tool. This is a crucial intervention, as results from the administered assessments will determine learner profiles and necessary interventions needed for each student. “Today’s event is a testament to our commitment to helping every child learn despite the most difficult circumstances. We have always believed in meeting children where they are. Providing them with resources in the language they know best, through digital learning, will give them the confidence and skills needed to become lifelong learners,” said UNICEF Philippines Chief of Education Isy Faingold. To further make instruction more conducive for learners, UNICEF will also roll out a professional development programme to capacitate teachers and school heads on effective early literacy strategies.
The Government of Japan’s support is part of its US$ 2.5 million donation to UNICEF Philippines through its Humanitarian Assistance for Asia Pacific. Since the start of the pandemic, Japan has donated $5.87 million (approximately PHP 331 million) of COVID-19 assistance to the Philippines through UNICEF.
“I am hopeful that this intervention will be effective in mitigating learning loss on children that is aggravated by the pandemic. As a long-standing partner of the UNICEF, the Government of Japan is grateful to add this programme to our roster of development cooperation with the UNICEF Philippines,” said First Secretary KANNO Chihiro from the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines.
All schools in the Philippines were closed between March 2020 and October 2021 due to the pandemic and Filipino children mostly experienced distance learning as way to continue education. This has aggravated a serious learning crisis in the country, leaving the most marginalized children further behind. However, with DepEd expressing plans to re-open in-person classes in all schools in late 2022, efforts are now focused on learning recovery. The Government of Japan and UNICEF Philippines remain committed to working with DepEd in ensuring that every Filipino child regains all learning lost during the pandemic.