Three students are asked what they want to be when they grow up. The first one answered, "I want to be a doctor to help the sick." "I want to be a scientist to discover new things," said the second child. Then the third child answered, "I want to be a teacher to help kids become what they want to be."
With this television advertisement campaign, the Philippines celebrated World Teachers Day last October to demonstrate appreciation of teachers. In reality, however, teachers, especially those working in public schools, need more help to feel they are valued.
Sa Aklat Sisikat Foundation (SAS) and the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) are supporting public school teachers with the help of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Partnerships for reading
Through the Computer Access Mentorship Program (CAMP), public school teachers are being trained online to improve how to teach their students to read at a minimal fee.
SAS is a nongovernment organization (NGO) bridges the education gap in the Philippines by advocating for functional literacy and progressive teacher, and administrator training.
Since 1999, SAS has been working with public schools nationwide, providing them the resources to implement a reading program designed to motivate students to read.
Initially developed for face-to-face training, SAS has improved its original curriculum to fit the online training and internet capacities, and needs of teachers.
The online curriculum is based on the results of the survey also supported by the project that assessed public school teachers' knowledge, attitudes and practices on reading and teaching children how to read.
Another NGO, BSP, has allocated a room in 25 of its council offices, located nationwide, as CAMP Sites. These council offices are near elementary schools, thereby making it accessible to teachers.
Each CAMP Site is staffed by CAMP Site coordinators who are supported by BSP. BSP is also providing for the other costs of running the facility, including Internet connection and computer maintenance.
The procurement of computers, training program materials, as well as the conduct of studies and surveys are supported by ADB through the Republic of Korea e-Asia and Knowledge Partnership Fund.
Reading facilitates learning
Dr. Seuss, a popular author of children's books, once wrote, "The more you read the more things you will know. The more that you learn the more places you'll go."
There is no doubt that poor reading skills among students affect their academic achievement.
The results of the National Achievement Test conducted in the Philippines for school year 2005-2006 were dismal with grade six students averaging just 54.5%, while fourth year students averaged just 44.3%.
Administered annually, the National Achievement Test assesses the competency of students in public and private schools in five major subjects. Students who achieve a score of 75% are assessed to have mastery of the subject, while those who score below 50% are assessed to have low mastery.
The project hopes to increase these scores in the future.
"Through CAMP we are expecting to have a greater impact. Teaching teachers has a multiplier effect, which means the project will benefit more children," shared Ms. Clarissa Delgado, CAMP Project Manager.
In addition to providing strategies on how to teach reading, CAMP will provide teachers with the skills to assess their students' capacities and develop improved classroom management strategies.
Videos are a large part of the online curriculum, demonstrating these strategies for easy learning.
The project is setting-up 25 CAMP Sites nationwide and training 9,000 teachers in three years. As of December 2011, 12 CAMP Sites have been successfully developed in North and South Luzon, as well as in the National Capital Region. The remaining 13 Sites will be developed in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.