WASHINGTON, March 18, 2014 – More than 4 million students in the poorest regions of the Philippines will soon have an opportunity to improve their basic skills in reading and mathematics.
The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a US$300 million loan for the Learning, Equity, and Accountability Program Support Project (LEAPS).
“Through LEAPS and with the help of World Bank, DepEd [Department of Education] will be able to advance the basic education agenda of the government. To deliver quality education, we need to empower not only our learners, but also our teachers,” said Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro. “LEAPS will strengthen accountability and incentives for teachers; improve teaching and learning in early grades, especially in reading and math; and address the needs of our disadvantaged learners.”
Experts have found that children’s educational performance in early grades has significant implications for their success later in life. According to experts, teachers need training in identifying and assessing individual learning challenges first, before applying appropriate strategies for different kinds of learners.
LEAPS will then provide support for the training of Grades 1 to 3 teachers and school principals in reading and math. Around 36,000 teachers and 12,000 principals and head teachers will receive training and will later serve as resource persons for their peers and colleagues in their respective schools.
The project will also support government efforts to strengthen accountability and provide incentives for better performance. It will also invest resources to help improve the quality and availability of data related to the education of disadvantaged groups. Such data will help assess the extent of their access to basic education services.
“LEAPS directly supports the President’s Social Contract, which considers education as an important strategy for investing in the Filipino people, reducing poverty, and improving national competitiveness,” said Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima.
The project will be implemented in Regions V (Bicol), VIII (Eastern Visayas), IX (Zamboanga Peninsula), Cordillera Administrative Region, and CARAGA, considered the five poorest regions in the Philippines.
These regions have high dropout rates especially between Grades 1 and 2, low performance in reading and math, and a significant population from indigenous communities and other disadvantaged groups.
Among the target beneficiaries of this project are teachers, public school students, students from indigenous communities, children with disabilities, children living in remote or difficult-to-access locations, and out-of-school youth.
These five regions have 14,121 elementary and secondary schools; 116,587 school teachers; and approximately 4,038,780 students.
“Good reading and math skills are vital tools for learning and help children succeed in school and their future careers. These are skills that children need for understanding their lessons well, developing their problem-solving capabilities and critical thinking, and achieving their full potential as human beings and citizens of the country,” said World Bank Philippines Country Director Motoo Konishi.
According to Lynnette Perez, World Bank Senior Education Specialist and Project Team Leader, the Bank is supporting LEAPS because it aims to provide better foundations for lifelong learning, a more efficient and effective education system, and will contribute to improving access and quality of education for indigenous groups, the disabled and out-of-school youths.
“LEAPS is all about ‘Learning for All’. The World Bank’s Education Strategy adheres to investing in early grade reading and math interventions, investing smartly through strengthening systems of accountability and incentives, and ensuring that quality education is accessible to everyone, including disadvantaged groups,” said Ms. Perez