By Corina Oliquino
FilAm Star Correspondent
MANILA – In line with the celebration of National Reading Month in November and this month’s National Literacy Month, the Department of Education (DepEd) partnered with World Vision Development Foundation to launch Brigada Pagbasa to enhance the reading skills of Filipino children.
The project boasts of partners: National Library of the Philippines, National Book Development Board, GCash, Rex Bookstore, E Net Philippines and TV and radio personality Joyce Pring as Ambassador. It is an extension of the Brigada Eskwela campaign that brings together experts, innovators, policy-makers and other stakeholders from different international and local agencies, private and public organizations alike “to spread reading literacy among Filipino children.”
In a report by the Philippine News Agency (PNA), DepEd Undersecretary for Legislative Affairs, External Partnerships, and Project Management Tonisito Umali said there are still few students who cannot read or read with comprehension despite passing to a higher grade level and even with DepEd’s programs and strategies that are meant to help students.
“Matagal na pong ginagawa ng World Vision ang ganitong proyekto in other shapes and forms in Baseco (Manila) at iba pang mga lugar at kitang-kita ko po kung gaano ka-epektibo ito para matulungan ang mga bata magbasa at aming mga guro na marami nang ginagawa sa paaralan,” Umali said.
The report also cited a 2016 United Nations (UN) study which ranked the Philippines as most literate in Southeast Asia at 97.95 percent, leading Brunei, Indonesia and Singapore.
“The UN said the literacy rate among Filipino women aged 15 to 24 is 98.9 percent while Filipino men of the same age have a 97 percent literacy rate,” the report reads. The organization also reported that a staggering number of Filipino children still face literacy challenges despite the Philippines’ improvement from the past years.
To bridge the literacy gap, World Vision Philippines Executive Director Rommer Fuerte said “literacy is one of the key factors which determines how well a country is progressing in a rapidly changing world.”
“We have an unfortunate reality where some Filipinos, both young and old, are still struggling with their literacy skills. To become literate is an important component in the development of children especially in this fast-paced, technology-driven age,” Fuerte added, with their global Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice aimed at serving all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender.
“Brigada Pagbasa aims to unleash the potential in every child. This campaign is a life-long commitment from all of us, perhaps, until every child receives an opportunity to be educated and develop his or her full potential,” he concluded.
Furthermore, Brigada Pagbasa will begin in November in several communities across the country to educate every Filipino about the value of reading, with Umali noting the project will “create opportunities for all stakeholders to contribute possible solutions to close current gaps in Philippine education through the concept of bayanihan or partnership between public and private institutions.”