MORE than 80 business and industry leaders, corporate foundations, and chambers of commerce convened on Tuesday at the Industry Leaders' Conference on Private Sector Support for Early Grade Learning to show support for the ABC+: Advancing Basic Education in the Philippines program of the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) and the Department of Education (DepEd) which aims to address the learning crisis exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The ABC+ projects focus on early grade education, from Kindergarten to Grade 3, on reading, mathematics and socio-emotional skills of Filipino children as a solid foundation for their growth and development.
These featured projects are the Early Numeracy Initiative for Remote Learning, the Comprehensive Rapid Literacy Assessment and the Beginning Reading Program.
Engaging with the private sector, DepEd and USAid push for the strengthening of this cooperation, in partnership with local government units, to further empower learners and teachers.
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"We believe that raising the next generation of leaders begins with raising good readers in the early years, and this endeavor involves not just the schools but also the leaders in the community," USAid Philippines Director of the Regional Office of Acquisition and Assistance Jennifer Crow said.
Education Undersecretary Tonisito Umali emphasized one of DepEd's projects, the Brigada Pagbasa, which aims to provide after-school tutorial sessions to students facing difficulties in their school lessons.
He said that the private sector could help by volunteering for this project and other similar projects that will ensure that no child will be left behind in education.
Umali also expressed gratitude to all groups and organizations who provided assistance to DepEd amid the pandemic to ensure learning continuity through distance learning modalities up until the gradual return to in-person classes, especially in the early grade levels.
"Early grade education is everyone's business. Everyone has a role to play, including the private sector. They have the power to create [a] lasting positive impact in our communities through the advancement of early grade learning," the DepEd official added.
The Asia Foundation Education Governance Manager Kimberly Mae Garcia said that private sector support could be manifested through teacher training, materials development and implementation of learning continuity plans.
Similarly, Smart Communication Inc. Stakeholder Management Head Stephanie Orlino shared their School-in-a-Bag project that provides teachers with a portable tech classroom with tablets that contain learning materials, a laptop for teachers and broadband for internet connectivity.
Microsoft Philippines also extended support for learning continuity through the provision of gadgets and software for teachers and learners which are essential for online learning. Its Education Programs lead Clarissa Segismundo said that they focused on ensuring that students are future-ready through the programs they have initiated.
In the manifesto signed by business and industry leaders, corporate foundations and chambers of commerce, these groups committed to working hand-in-hand with education stakeholders, including the government, Filipino families, and grassroots communities, in advancing improved early grade learning.
"We believe in the power of the business sector to create a positive impact in our communities and investing in early grade education is our shared mission," the manifesto read.