ABC+ Program Supporting Children’s Early Grade Learning Launched in Iriga and Roxas City

June 21, 2021 — “We can’t let Covid-19 win over our children’s education,” remarked Dr. Thomas LeBlanc, director for USAID Philippines’ Office of Education as USAID launched the Parent and Community Engagement Project with consecutive online events in Iriga City in Bicol and Roxas City in Western Visayas. Part of ABC+: Advancing Basic Education in the Philippines, the Parent and Community Engagement Project helps parents and communities in their involvement in children’s early grade learning amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“We will bolster the skills of parents to facilitate learning, as well as build the capacity of communities to support parents and the Department of Education (DepEd) to make sure that kids learn,” said LeBlanc during events attended by city mayors, DepEd officials, local partners, parents’ organizations, and community leaders. “Due to Covid-19, distance learning is the only mode of learning available for children. This brings new challenges to parents who are now required to be more involved in the education of their children, especially in the early grades,” he added.

Distance learning has been a challenge for parents since DepEd suspended face-to-face classes in March 2020 due to Covid-19. In April of this year, the Philippines recorded a surge in new Covid-19 cases. “The Parent and Community Engagement Project will assist and provide parents and the barangays effective tools for them to work together to be more involved in their child’s education,” explained Lorrybel Nachor of the Coalition for Bicol Development, the project’s local partner in Region V.

“Through this project, we will provide support to the parents to capacitate them in facilitating their children’s learning. We will also establish a system within the community to support parents, especially those who have not finished their education in performing their role as learning facilitators,” explained John Patrick Sedantes of Community’s Hope and Initiative for Lasting Development, Incorporated, the project partner in Region VI.

The Asia Foundation, through implementing partners CBD and CHILDInitiative, will implement parent and community session guides in target barangays, including geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas. It will include strengthening the capacity of barangay and parent leaders, regular training for parents, promotion of collaboration among teachers, barangay leaders, and other stakeholders, and provision of mother-tongue language learning materials, among others.

During the online launch, both Mayors expressed their commitment to early grade learning. “As we respond to this health and education emergency, let us help one another to help our children learn,” said Mayor Alfelor of Iriga City. “As a mother, I understand, I empathize, with many parents’ difficulties in juggling many competing demands due to this pandemic. Taking the challenging role of teaching children at home requires us to connect. Parents must remember that they are not alone. They have the community, local government, DepEd, and ABC+ to help them,” she concluded.

During the launch in Roxas, Mayor Dadivas explained how the local government supports children in early grades. “The city also allocated part of its budget for children to continue learning, specifically for different training activities to improve early grade education,” the mayor said. “I am confident that we can sustain an environment and a system that will capacitate the communities and parents to be more effective home learning facilitators, particularly for early grade learners.”

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