Category Archives: Philippines

The Korean, Chinese, Indian and Singaporean systems of education

The various educational systems in Asia are all traditional, completely dependent on lectures of teachers and prescribed textbooks. However, the colonial influences of the British, Spanish, American, French and Dutch are still felt. Buddhist and Hindu, Muslim and Christian beliefs have permeated their culture as well.

South Korea’s uphill struggle to become a democracy

South Korea has a total population of 49.3 million. The 20th century (1948) history of education in Korea dates back to the liberation from Japan after the Gwangbokjeol era. Then the Korean government began to study and discuss for a new philosophy of education. The new system attempted to make education available to all students equally and promote the educational administration to be more self-governing.

Following the Korean War, when the country was divided into North and South Korea, Syngman Rhee and later Park Chung Hee were in power. Education became centralized. Because of lack of resources, education was compulsory only up to the sixth grade. Reforms in the 1980s took place under the power of Gen. Chun Doo-hwan. In 1980 the number of students attending all kinds of higher educational institutions was almost 600,000, that number grew almost 100 percent to 1,061,403 students by 1983. A second reform was the prohibition of private, after-school tutoring. Formerly, private tutors could charge exorbitant rates if they had a good “track record” of getting students into the right schools through intensive coaching especially in English and mathematics.

Kindergarten is optional in South Korea and most parents prefer to keep their little ones at home as long as possible. However, at age 6 compulsory chodeung-hakgyo elementary education was imposed. The transition to 3 years of Middle School can be difficult because studies are taken far more seriously.

Places in secondary schools are awarded by lottery and everybody gets an equal chance. Discipline with uniforms, haircuts and punctuality is strictly enforced. Specialist teachers move between classrooms teaching core subjects. The final 3 years of school education take place at high schools. These may specialize according to subjects taught like Science versus Languages. Some are state owned and some are privately run. Approximately 25 percent of Middle School graduates prefer to go on Vocational Schools, where they are taught skills in Agriculture, Commerce, Fishery, Home Economics and Technology.

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The greater majority of Korean high school students must pass a college scholastic ability test with a view to studying further. Standards are high and some students start preparing as early as in kindergarten years. Whole families become involved in helping them to pass. Thus a student who passes acquires a qualification that meets top international standards – living proof of the power of a knowledge-based economy.


Before the defeat of the Kuomintang in 1949, education was effectively closed to workers, peasants and generally females in practical terms despite Sun Yat-Sen’s support of general education in principle. However, the Marxist ideology of the post-1949 government, in reacting to the overly literary and classical tradition of China, overstressed the superior wisdom of the worker and peasant. Various experiments in which peasants and industrial workers were made “teachers” overnight but were unable to communicate their knowledge.

In an attempt to make education more practical and accessible, Chinese characters were simplified by communist leader Mao Zedong for quick learning. The Great Leap forward (1958-1960) and the Socialist Education Movement sought to end deeply rooted academic elitism, to narrow social and cultural gaps between workers and peasants and eliminate the tendency of scholars and intellectuals to disdain manual labor.

Later on Deng Xiaoping’s introduced far-ranging educational reform policy, which involved all levels of the education system, critical to modernizing China. Academically, the goals of reform were to enhance and universalize elementary and junior middle school education, to develop vocational and technical education, a paramount importance. China’s mandatory nine-year compulsory education, now effectively cover 85 percent of the population. Illiteracy in the young and mid-aged population has fallen from over 80 percent down to five percent.

As of 2014, China’s population is estimated at 1,393,783,836. International cooperation and education exchanges increase every year. China has more students studying abroad than any other country. Chinese students have been studying in 103 countries. About 185,000 have returned after finishing their studies.


India has a population of 1,238.9 million as of 2014. Both public and private education in India is funded from three levels: central state, and local. Free and compulsory education is provided to children between the ages of 6 and 14.

According to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2012, 96.5 percent of all rural children between the ages of 6 to 14 were enrolled in school. Its quality has been questioned. Some of the reasons are attributed to the absence of around 25 percent of teachers everyday. Private schools in India must be non-profit to run any accredited educational institution.

The Indian education system is structured as follows: preschool education is not compulsory. The Montessori system is especially popular at the preschool level since Dr. Maria Montessori lived here to continue her research on the Cosmic Curriculum. The medium of teaching is often English, but Hindi, the national language is compulsory. More than 50 percent of the children are enrolled in private schools in urban areas and 20 percent in rural areas. The percentage of untrained teachers (parateachers) is 54.91 percent in private, compared to 44.88 percent in government schools. Even the poorest often go to private schools despite the fact that government schools are free. Elementary education for 6 to 14 years old is a major challenge for the government, specially to engage communities where child labor is still a common practice and young females particularly are still being deprived of this opportunity.

The secondary school curriculum is still largely based on the colonial system that the British left behind. Young people who do not wish to go on to tertiary education or who fail to complete secondary school often enroll at privately owned vocational schools. In so doing, they prepare themselves to face the impact of the liberalization and globalization of the Indian economy.

Tertiary Education – India is justifiably proud of its universities, which are mainly funded by state governments and many are centers of excellence. The 12 larger ones are funded by the central government, which is more generous in its financial support. The National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) is responsible for the management of the education system and teacher accreditation.

 Singapore – Strictly multi-lingual and ‘subject band’ based, leading to British GCE ‘O’ levels

Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles founded Singapore Institute (now known as Raffles Institution) in 1823, thereby starting education in Singapore under the British rule. Due to the multi-racial nature of the population, there are three main types of schools which appeared in Singapore: the Chinese and Tamil schools (taught thru their native tongue) Malay schools. English schools were exclusively then for the British residents.

In 1947, after World War II, the Ten Year Programme for Education Policy was implemented partially with the British military administration (1945-1955). Internal self-government set in 1955-1962 when Singapore separated from the Malaysian merger and Lee Kuan Yew became the head of the new Republic calling for a universal education system that would prepare for “self governance.” The industrialization program started. The bilingualism policy in schools was officially introduced in 1960, making English the official language with the mother tongues. The first Junior College was opened in 1969.

In 1980s, Singapore’s economy started to prosper. Education system shifted from quantity to quality, such as revamping vocational education under the new Institute of Technology and splitting secondary schools into Normal (Academic) and Normal (Technical) streams. Lee’s son Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong continued the “ability driven system.” Preschools are run by private sector, including community foundations, religious bodies, and civic or business groups. Primary education is compulsory and free for all, though there is a fee of up to SGD13 monthly per student to help cover miscellaneous costs.

Streaming after Gr. IV is quite different and complicated since pupils are divided as Primary 5 to the EM1, EM2 and EM3 (English and mother tongue). This includes the “Subject-based banding” where students take subjects at different levels depending on their scores in the respective subjects. To get promoted to Secondary School, students sit for the national Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE)

“Special” and “Express” are four-year courses leading up to the Singapore-Cambridge GCE “O” Level examination. This is complicated with obligatory “higher mother tongue” Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. There are ongoing debates about the effectiveness of streaming with some arguing that it should be abolished due to its detrimental psychological effects. The Integrated Programme, which leads to either an International Baccalaureate Diploma or to an A-level exam.

Polytechnics in Singapore provide three-year diploma courses. They accept students based on their GCE “O” level, GCE “A” level or Institute of Technical Education (ITE). Polytechnics offer a wide range of courses in various fields, including engineering, business studies, accountancy, tourism and hospitality management, mass communications, digital media and biotechnology. There are also specialized courses such as marine engineering, nautical studies, nursing and optometry. About 40 percent of each Secondary 4 cohort would enroll in Polytechnics.

Asia’s mad rush to become globally competitive

The parents and teachers of all Asian countries eagerly anticipate the sustainable future of their children with the “best” system of education, to the extent of entrapping them within a “pressure cooker” lifestyle without recognizing the hidden treasures of infancy to adolescence.

English in K to 12

To understand what the Senior High School (SHS) Core Subject called “Reading and Writing” is all about, we should not look only at its course description but at the entire Curriculum Guide for English, starting with Kindergarten. The reason is that all subjects are now spiraled.

Spiraling means that the student is taught a subject in Kindergarten, that subject is enhanced a little bit in Grade 1, enhanced a little bit more in Grade 2, and so on, such that, by SHS, the student will have mastered the subject.

Let us take the English curriculum as an example. (I will quote verbatim from the curriculum guides available on the website of the Department of Education.)

The English curriculum is based on the guiding principle that “students enhance their language abilities by using what they know in new and more complex contexts and with increasing sophistication (spiral progression).” Spiral Progression is described in this way: “Skills, grammatical items, structures and various types of texts will be taught, revised and revisited at increasing levels of difficulty and sophistication. This will allow students to progress from the foundational level to higher levels of language use.”

There are five skills (called “sub-strands”) that are highlighted in the curriculum: listening, speaking, reading, writing, and viewing. Since we cannot discuss all of the skills or competencies in the curriculum guide, let us take one “language arts domain” common to all these sub-strands, namely, Vocabulary Development.

In Kindergarten, the student is expected to “actively engage in meaningful conversation with peers and adults using varied spoken vocabulary,” while “acquiring new words / widening his/her vocabulary links to his/her experiences.”


In Grade 1, the student “demonstrates understanding of familiar English words for effective communication, demonstrates understanding of word meaning for correct usage, uses basic vocabulary to independently express ideas about personal, home, school and community experiences,  and correctly uses familiar words in speaking activities.”

In Grade 2, the student “demonstrates understanding of suitable vocabulary used in different languages for effective communication and uses familiar vocabulary to independently express ideas in speaking activities.” Note the addition of the terms “suitable” and “independently.”

In Grade 3, the student “demonstrates understanding of English vocabulary used in both oral and written language in a given context and proficiently uses English vocabulary in varied and creative oral and written activities.” Note the addition of the terms “given context” and “creative,” as well as the introduction of writing.

In Grade 4, the student “demonstrates understanding that word meaning can be derived from different sources, demonstrates understanding that words are composed of different parts and their meaning changes depending on context, uses different resources to find word meaning, and uses strategies to decode the meaning of words in context.” Note the stress on context and on finding the meanings of words.

In Grade 5, the student “identifies different meanings of content specific words (denotation and connotation) and infers the meaning of unfamiliar words (compound, affixed) based on given context clues (synonyms, antonyms, word parts) and other strategies.” Note the introduction of connotation, synonyms, and antonyms.

In Grade 6, the student “infers meaning of idiomatic expressions using context clues; infers meaning of borrowed words and content specific terms using context clues, affixes and roots; clarifies meaning of words using dictionaries, thesaurus, online resources.” Note the addition of online resources.

In Grade 7, the student “distinguishes between slang and colloquial expressions in conversations, uses appropriate idiomatic expressions in a variety of basic interpersonal communicative situations, explains the predominance of colloquial and idiomatic expressions in oral communication, discriminates between literal and figurative language, identifies figures of speech that show comparison (simile, metaphor, personification) or contrast (irony, oxymoron, paradox), categorizes words or expressions according to shades of meaning, identifies collocations used in a selection, determines words or expressions with genus-species (hyponymous) relations in a selection, identifies words or expressions with part-whole (partitive) relations, uses lexical and contextual cues in understanding unfamiliar words and expressions, analyzes relationships presented in analogies, supplies other words or expressions that complete an analogy, gives the various meanings of identified homonymous or polysemous words or expressions, identifies words or expressions used in a selection that show varying shades of meaning (gradients), and creates or expands word clines.” Note the introduction of what are essentially literary devices.

In Grade 8, the student “determines the meaning of idiomatic expressions by noting context clues and collocations; uses appropriate strategies in unlocking the meaning of unfamiliar words and idiomatic expressions; determines the meaning of words and expressions that reflect the local culture by noting context clues; distinguishes between and among verbal, situational, and dramatic types of irony and gives examples of each; identifies figures of speech that show emphasis (hyperbole and litotes); explains the meaning of a word through structural analysis (prefixes, roots, suffixes); and analyzes intention of words or expressions used in propaganda techniques.” Note the addition of more literary devices, the stress on culture, and the warning on propaganda. (Next week: English in Grades 9 to 12)


Training the child’s poetic mind

Twenty-eight years ago during our first Poetry Festival, Lea Salonga, then a senior in the O.B. Montessori High School, won the gold medal reciting “The Vulture’s Eye.” Mercy Soliven-David, OBMC speech consultant, the teachers and students were mesmerized for a good five minutes when Lea transported them to the crazed world of a murderer. Ever since then, this poem by Edgar Allan Poe has been the toughest test of a declamation contest we hold in our four schools. In 2003, Kristine Pascasio, Grade VI, of our Las Pinas branch got the gold medal for her excellent rendition of the same piece. Her parents, both doctors, Jet and Ida Pascasio, were champion orators in high school.

Training the poetic mind

Poetry is essentially an oral art. Young children are especially responsive to it because they share with the poet a free, vivid imagination and the capacity to enjoy words. For them, the sound and rhythm of poetry are an integral part of its meaning. So the speaking of poetry is not only useful vocal practice, it is a means to poetic appreciation.

Poetry is not only a way of saying. It is a way of seeing – a way of looking at the world, and responding to it. It develops the “third eye.” This ability does not belong exclusively to the poet. Almost every child possesses it. His senses are clear, and he has the poet’s knack of relating one impression to another and expressing his experience in imaginative language. For instance, can you see the “orange tree,” the golden sun shining through a small tree, or taste “a jungle full of juicy animals.”

What kills the natural gift of poetry

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Education today has the tendency to ”divorced the word from the image, and have put it under bondage to reason”. We are trained with an analytical view of the world, and a logical, factual interpretation of it.

If we want children “to enjoy poetry and not merely to learn” about poetry, we have to keep alive and foster in them the imagination. We must believe that a sensitive awareness is no less important than a quick factual memory or the power of accurate calculation, and that it deserves as much care and attention. What’s more, we must learn to cultivate it ourselves, and not allow the mechanics of teaching to kill what was once our natural gift.

During our school days, we sang the National Anthem in English so mechanically, that its poetry was lost: “Land of the morning, child of the sun returning, with fervor burning, thee do our souls adore…“ Even its Filipino version is in lyrical Tagalog “Lupang hinirang, duyan ka ng magiting, sa manglulupig, ‘di ka pasisiil…”

Choose poems which you like yourself – not the ones you think you ought to like, because they have been praised as literature. If we do not enjoy a poem, chances are the class won’t either, however much “expression” we use. With poetry, honesty is definitely the best policy. You’ll surely enjoy God’s Minute, author unknown. “I have only one minute. Sixty seconds in it. Forced upon me; can’t refuse it. But it is up to me to use it. I must suffer if I lose it. Give account if I abuse it. Just a tiny little minute… Ah! But eternity is in it!”

Where can we purchase poetry books? Mercy David recommends, “I gathered my collection for O.B. Montessori from bookstores in New Jersey like Barnes and Nobles, Borders and B. Dalton’s. I visited the difference city libraries to copy poetry and declamation pieces. I selected from my brother, Max Soliven’s columns and from his book of 108 unpublished personal poems written during his high school days (1941-1948), and from great men of our country grouping these for preschool, grade school and high school. As for elocution pieces, I collected some from Max’s speeches, Jose Rizal’s, William Shakespeare’s and various statesmen here and abroad. Below is one of Max’s poem, The Flag”:

Take it: Caress it! Cover it with tears.

It’s your flag and my flag

that holds all hopes and fears.

It stands for a nation,

my country right or wrong

The flag of my people,

a nation ever strong!…

her Imperial Majesty Empress Michiko’s love for poetry

On December 2002, while Mercy David was undergoing neuro-surgery, which she never expected, her main concern was the 40 poems she chose for the Poetry Festival 2003. In her high school and college days, she herself was a consistent gold medalist in oratorical contests in St. Paul and St. Theresa’s College. Later, she assisted Fr. Reuter in the Ateneo Dramatic Guild.

Mercy David who married a Cebuano, Engr. Mariano David, followed her husband who was assigned to the Ambuklao Dam project in Baguio, where two of her nine children were born. Finally, they settled in Maluso, Basilan, where her husband cultivated 80 hectares of rubber trees for the David family farm. When the rubber trees were matured, Martial Law broke out and so their children evacuated to Manila for further studies. Meantime yearly, they would receive gold and silver medals in Ateneo de Zamboanga and Pilar College.

When her only daughter, Marites David-Ramos worked in Tokyo, Mercy David would baby-sit for her first grandchild, then later her second. Nuns at the Sherayuri College for Women (an exclusive Catholic school) in Tokyo would involve Mercy during their poetry festivals where she met then Her Imperial Highness Princess Michiko. Their love for poetry became a strong bond to the extent that Princess Michiko would invite her to Togu Palace during her annual visits to Japan where they recited English poetry together. Later, Mercy was invited to the Imperial Palace when the princess became the Empress.

‘Keep a poem in your pocket’

“Keep a poem in your pocket” is the title of a poem but Mercy David uses it often to remind the parents whose children she coaches for the contest, “Parents of our young ones should absolutely voice record their children’s delivery so that they would hear themselves and improve on their recording. Three copies of the poem or declamation piece should promptly be made – one for the parents, one for pasting on the assignment notebook and one to carry in their shirt pockets. Just remember! Keep a poem in your pocket!”

“Meantime, I make sure the teachers would explain first the meaning of the poem, its message and background. Two weeks are given for students to commit it to memory. If I am here, since I only come from New Jersey from November to the end of January, I personally coach the students, giving one day for Sta. Ana and another for Las Pinas branches during the week. I try to go to Angeles, Pampanga to supervise the poetry and elocution practices.”

What poetry teachers and students should do

even during the first year recitation in 1987, poetry had caught fire with both parents and students. “As their trainor,” Mrs. David emphasizes, “each student must observe six pointers: Doing the curtsy, gracefully or bowing like a gentleman, observing a few seconds of pauses between stanzas and five second pause at the end of the speech before saying ‘I thank you,’ a change of voice when needed and a few unobtrusive steps to the front or side while reciting have become important parts of the graded recitation.”

“Teachers and students should mark out the phrases that need emphasis. The teachers should read aloud the selection showing them how to project their voices. One should consult the dictionary when in doubt about pronunciation. Appropriate gestures should accompany the recitation of the poems and declamations. When talking about something in one direction, one should consistently point to the same direction. Smiling should set you in a pleasant mood. A pause of five seconds should come after saying the title, author and curtsying or bowing. Eye contact with the audience is important to establish rapport – looking at the far end, then right, left and front. Teachers should coach their respective students daily in front of the class, while at home parents and siblings would be the audience.”

Poems can lift a grieving heart

Poems are not always sweet and happy, nor a courageous call to arms. Half of the time, they soothe broken hearts especially those who have lost their loved ones. Here is the poem, ‘God Saw You Were Getting Tired’, which was selected for Engineer Bong Alterado by his brother.

Bong was an O.B. Montessori loyalty student from preschool to high school, who recently passed away at 29 after a painful ailment, which lingered for two weeks. His mother, Nita was a former cook at the school canteen, while his father, Nards looked after the supplies of Ristorante La Dolce Fontana. After graduating from Mapua Institute of Technology and passing the board exams, Bong was hired by Ayala Land as technical assistant for Glorietta 4 and Greenbelt. After almost three years, he worked at Fort Bonifacio Real Estate Corporation as their Building Administrator.

God saw you were getting tired,

And a care was not to be,

And whispered, ‘Come to me.’

With tearful eyes we watched you,

And saw you pass away.

Although we loved you dearly,

We could not make you stay.

A golden heart stopped beating,

Hard working hands at rest.

God broke our hearts to prove to us,

That He loves His children best.


More adults, children complete literacy program

(Press Release) — A total of 52 Adults and 54 children completed the CNMI Motheread/Fatheread Family Literacy Program from the Kagman Elementary School, the Garapan Elementary School and the William S. Reyes Elementary School.

The CNMI Motheread/Fatheread event honored the families from these respective schools for completing eight weeks of family literacy classes.

Families would meet for one hour per week for eight weeks. During these sessions, they would borrow books from the Motheread/Fatheread curriculum, read stories, and share experiences and activities with their families, as well as, receive incentives for attendance.

Kagman Elementary School’s completion ceremony on Friday, March 6, 2015 congratulated the following 5 Adult Course participants for successfully completing the Motheread/Fathered Family Literacy Program: Maria Rosa San Nicolas, Jack Pangelinan, Benylin Mettao, Dolores Taitano, and Theofilus Minor.

Story Exploring participants included the following 5: Tyler Rdialul, Jerrico Pangelinan, Anastacia Minor, Ely Joseph Taitano, Darren Pangelinan.

Garapan Elementary School completion ceremony was on Thursday, March 5, 2015, and there were 21 Adult Course participants: Janet C. Bagas, Analyn De Luna, Marla Ann Cabrera, Deborah Ladringan, Romelyn Ramos, Rod Ramos, Victor Silva, Evangeline Seguritan, Lan Yan Xu Carlson, Belinda G. Dela Cruz, Mildred Ebuen, Jennifer Felipe, Precilla Arcega, Anastasia Mality, Valerio Mality, Raynna Mality, Surya Gautam, Sandhya Gautam, Mei Rengiil, Editha Villamena, and Rita Demapan.


Story Exploring participants included the following 26 children: Precious Denise Valerio, Xyleena Eliana Villamena, Ashnoy Mallik, Menmoy Mallik, Ria Rengiil, Rina Rengiil, Paul Sam Paulis, Rayjay Mality, Telinamae Mality, Johnlane Delacruz, Sunshine Gautam, Susana Gautam, Rodnyle Matthew Ramos, Ryle Angelo Ramos, Reign Angel Ramos, Gabriella Venezuela, Vince Silva, Evan Joseph Seguritan, Elline Joy Seguritan, Angela Xu Carlson, Leandro Delacruz, Francine Joy Ebuen, Earicka Joi Bagas, Heart Mariell M. De Luna, Jaceylene Rios, and Noah Wilbur Ladringan.

William S. Reyes Elementary School’s completion ceremony was on Tuesday, March 3, 2015.

The 26 Adult Course participants who successfully completed the Motheread/Fathered Family Literacy Program were: Marichu V. Legaspi, Dorothy Fernandez Trasporto, Estelita Oller Cabrera, Jane Tanamor Malabanan, Icy D. Maximo, Jeremiah Encarnacion Maximo , Elvie D. Castillo, Maria Gloria Nery Dalupo, Evelyn Cabrera Palacios, Susana N. Cabanban, Edilwisa Sombrero Viana, Amy Guanlao, Luis Jr. Hernandez, Maria Erlinda Voces, Jonnielyn Namauleg, Diego Lazar, Elvira Valenzuela Lazar, Tina Borja, Shirley Lynne Monkeya, Felix Fitial, Lou L. Fitial, Erlynda Elewel, Olivia B. Aldan, Precila B. Campo, Cecilia Guevarra, and Minda Castro.


The Story Exploring participants included the following 23 children: Montrea Elewel, Marialus Elewel Sablan, Jene Daniel Sablan, Alexander Guevarra Jr., Mary Grace Legaspi, Jercy Maximo, Jeremiah Maximo Jr., Mark Anthony Lloren, Viana Edison, Benjamin Palacios, Alliezon Palomares, Kiara Tabora, Angel Nica Voces, David Camacho, Herbit Jr. Villagomez, Avril Lazar, Alvin Lazar, Aldrin James Lazar, Juco Jesudicto Limes Fitial, Paul Lizama, Maria Rosa Manibusan, Frances Hernandez, and Murielle Campo.

A great big thank you goes out to the Parent Trainers: Lilia King, Celina Foreman, Beth Demapan, Angel Lourdes Cabrera, Bryan Manabat; the Story Exploring Instructors: Jocelyn Eusebio, Margie Sugaste, Evangeline Espanola, Reinaldine Casilang, Joanne Ordona, and Rency Castro; the Kagman Elementary School Administration (Go, Marlins!); the Garapan Elementary School Administration (Yay, Mallards!) ; the William S. Reyes Elementary School Administration( Biba, Kingfishers!); the Americorps volunteers; the CNMI Motheread/Fatheread team; and the Northern Marianas Humanities Council for making such a successful event finale possible. We thank you and congratulate you families for your commitment and dedication to literacy for your families! Hip, Hip Hooray!


UNICEF and lifestyle media unite to improve literacy services for T’boli women

Women of the T'boli tribe feel a new sense of independence when they learn literacy and numeracy skills important for everyday tasks.

Women of the T’boli tribe feel a new sense of independence when they learn literacy and numeracy skills important for everyday tasks.

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund), together with select members of lifestyle media gathered together to support efforts of women to advance their literacy skills and to celebrate the creativity of indigenous women of the T’boli tribe.

The T’boli, one of the indigenous peoples of Southern Mindanao, is known for their affinity for colorful adornments and weaves. They are also popular for an exotic fabric called t’nalak, the T’boli sacred cloth of abaca made with centuries-old practices passed down from generation to generation.

The T’boli’s main source of livelihood are farming and fishing. Most of them do not know how to read, write and count, especially women who are left in the house to take care of their children. According to a national survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations, women in Mindanao are rated poorest in terms of education indicators such as functional literacy. Functional literacy refers to the population 10 years old and over who possess not only reading and writing skills but also numeracy skills and the ability to participate fully and efficiently in activities commonly occurring in one’s life.

Despite their knowledge of complex weaves and intricate beadwork, research revealed that T’boli women could not write their own names or perform simple arithmetic operations. For the past 13 years, UNICEF has been working with local government partners to help these women take charge of their lives and become more engaged in their community through valuable skills.

Today, key members of the lifestyle media give their efforts a boost through a fund raising luncheon for UNICEF’s Female Functional Literacy (FFL) project. The FFL project has been one of the successful models of literacy-building in the Philippines. Initiated in 1995 as a component of the Fourth Country Programme for Children (CPC IV) of UNICEF, the FFL project today is an integrated literacy package that equips participants with functional literacy and numeracy skills, as well as good health practices.

The event also served as a venue for lifestyle editors and writers to be familiar with UNICEF’s work in the Philippines.


Literacy Philippines: Mindanao Report


The literacy skills tested in this assessment include concepts about print (CAP), letter knowledge, single word reading of most used words (MUW), words read correctly per minute of a grade-level passage (fluency), total words read correctly of the grade-level passage (accuracy), reading comprehension, and listening comprehension. Overall, inter-rater reliability was good, meaning that assessors generally consistently evaluated children’s performance on these sub-tests.

Given these findings, Literacy programming should:

 accommodate the diversity of different language speakers in schools, ensuring that all teacher training content, community action activities, and any print materials developed are equally relevant to the different linguistic groups

 provide posters and other instructional and visual aids as well as helping teachers construct their own materials for a print-rich classroom environment in which teachers have legible assets from which to teach students

 establish Book Banks where children can borrow a variety of engaging, skill level appropriate print

 offer material creation and community activities that allow all students access to storybooks, coloring books, newspapers, magazines, etc

 provide household members, especially parents, with information about the value of telling stories, singing, and playing games with their children and suggestions for how to do so via the Community Strategies for Enhancing Literacy flipbook and parental awareness workshops

 increase students’ access to print through materials creation, Book Banks, Reading Buddies, and Reading Camps involving activities where students can actually practice handling books, especially storybooks, themselves and to learn from the example of experienced readers

 build on children’s existing letter knowledge and address the largely unknown letters

 focus on letters and phonological awareness through the teacher training, community action, and material creation such as alphabet posters and make-and-take letters

 give teachers the training and tools to help students apply their knowledge of letters and phonics to build their decoding skills. This should be reinforced through Reading Camp activities that emphasize practicing letters and reading basic words

Student Background and School Characteristics

Student Characteristics and Schooling Experience

The image below displays the average values for a range of background characteristics for each of the intervention and control sample of students. The sample as a whole is comprised of students about seven to eight years in age who come from a household of three to four other family members on average. While students were given the option of reporting more than one language spoken at home, the vast majority (97%) only reported speaking a single language at home. The linguistic composition of students seems similar across schools, with the largest linguistic group being the T’boli speakers (46%), followed by Ilonggo speakers (36%) and Maguindanaoan speakers (15%). Literacy Boost programming should accommodate the diversity of different language speakers in schools, and ensure that all teacher training content, community action activities, and any print materials developed are equally relevant to the different linguistic groups.

The vast majority of students walk to school and have attended an early childhood development (ECD) program prior to primary school, mostly kindergarten. About one-fifth of the entire sample reports having repeated a grade, mostly grade 1, but almost a quarter of students did not know whether or not they had repeated a grade.


Socio-Economic Status

In terms of socio-economic status (SES), most students have houses with bamboo walls (the cheapest wall-building material inquired about), with one quarter living in homes with wooden walls and about 14% in homes with cement walls (the most expensive wall-building material). Similarly, the plurality of students live in houses with bamboo floors, with another one fifth living in houses with cement floors and about 15% in houses with wooden floors. Another fifth of students live in houses with dirt floors (the cheapest type of floor). The average student comes from a household with about two of the five possessions listed in the survey, with electricity as the most prevalent and refrigerators as the least prevalent. For livestock, students report household ownership of between one and two types of livestock on average, with cows as the most commonly owned and goats and pigs as the least commonly owned.



It may be important to examine how students spend their out-of-school time in order to understand their opportunity for study and participation in Literacy Boost community activities. Thirty-five percent of students report working outside the home ‘sometimes’ and nine percent report working outside the home ‘every day.’ These out-of-home work responsibilities cause almost one fifth of students to sometimes miss school. Many more students report performing household chores ‘sometimes’ (40%) or ‘every day’ (57%), although about half the number of students report missing school for chore as report missing school for work. Almost one quarter of students report working ‘sometimes’ or ‘every day’ and performing chores ‘every day’ – this may be an important variable to examine during multilevel analysis as these are the busiest students according to their self-reports. Most students report studying ‘every day,’ more than report either working or performing chores ‘every day,’ And there are no differences in this time allocation by groups as can be seen in Table 4. Although this is a good sign, one quarter of students reports studying less than every day, and Literacy Boost should help teachers encourage all students to study every day as well as helping parents understand the value of frequent study and its linkage to reading skill level. The multilevel analysis section toward the end of this report will test this linkage.


School Characteristics

Turning to school characteristics, almost 60% of schools serve food to students, and only one-third have a school management committee (although nearly all schools have a parent-teacher association). The entire sample of schools is somewhat isolated from urban areas and roads, as the average school is about 14 kilometers from the nearest district center and about two kilometers from the nearest tar road. Schools infrastructure is not always fully developed: 17% percent of schools lack an office for the headmaster, 22% lack electricity, 40% lack a water point (and only 34% treat their water), 30% lack clean latrines for student use (and only 53% have a hand washing station with soap), 14% lack ventilation, and 60% lack play equipment. Most worryingly, a full 73% of schools do not have a library.

In addition, 52% of the classrooms assessed lack a legible blackboard.

In terms of teachers and training, supervisors appear to visit schools biannually on average. Teachers receive Ministry of Education in-service training (INSET) either annually or biannually, but receive other INSET more frequently – either biannually or monthly. Schools reported about one teacher transferred in and one transferred out during the course of the school year. Because the assessment was conducted early in the school year, this may be an indication of high teacher turnover.

Looking to the languages spoken by students, schools appear to be linguistically diverse with much overlap in students speaking one language versus another.


Examining school characteristics disaggregated by sample group reveals some potentially important differences. Comparison schools appear closer to district centers than do intervention schools, although the situation is reversed for distance to nearest tar road. Intervention schools appear more likely to have certain advantages over comparison schools: in terms of water and sanitation, more intervention schools have a water point, treat their water, and have a hand washing station with soap. More intervention schools have ventilation, play equipment, and SMCs. Intervention schools have a more linguistically diverse student body with some schools reporting Ilokano speakers7 versus no comparison schools reporting having Ilokano students. (7 Ilokano is another mother tongue spoken in the area. Due to the low number of children who speak this language as their mother tongue at these schools, Ilokano literacy skills were not assessed.)

Using clustered t-tests to investigate statistically significant differences among student background and examining the differences between schools, the two sample groups appear similar on the vast majority of student characteristics, as well as most school characteristics with a few exceptions.

Home literacy environment

Turning to students’ home literacy environment, Figure 1 shows that the majority of students have textbooks in their home, although a significant minority do not. This is the most common type of reading material in the household reported by students; little over one fourth of students report religious reading materials in the home and only 11% or less on average report having any other type of material. Indeed, the average number of types of print reported in the household is only one.


Students were also asked the question, ‘what do you do to learn to read better?’ and assessors categorized students’ first response into one of five categories. (The five categories were receiving help from family/community member, receiving help from teacher, hard work/practice outside of school, hard work/practice inside school, or the study of a particular language mechanic such as studying letters. Inter-rater reliability was excellent for this measure with a 0.89 ICC.) As Figure 2 shows, a large proportion of students’ responses were categorized as receiving help from family/community members, and the percent of children reporting hard work/practice outside of school was double that reporting hard work/practice in school.


Despite children’s perception that learning to read takes place with family and community members, Figure 3 shows that only about a third of students exchanged books with others in the week prior to the assessment, and less than a third read to anyone in the week prior to the assessment.


For further details and statistics please go to the following link:





Expanding NGO Involvement in Literacy for Women in Muslim Mindanao: The Philippine’s Experience

Prepared by: Myrna B. Lim Notre Dame Foundation for Charitable Activities – Women in Enterprise Development, Cotabato City, Philippines

Executive Summary

The Notre Dame Foundation for Charitable Activities, Inc. -WOME IN ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT (NDFCAI-WED) has been identified and selected by the Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU) as its NGO partner in the Philippines in its “1995 Programme for Establishing Literacy Resource Center for Women and Girls in the Philippines”. It was selected from amongst a number of NGOs engaged in literacy work and promotion in the country. The establishment of the Philippine Literacy Resource Centre for Women and Girls last 1995 further paved the way to the promotion of literacy activities in Mindanao and at the same time, affirming the nation’s commitment to the vision of Education for All.

In support of the ACCU goals, the NDFCAI-WED seeks other funding and linkages. Thus, in partnership with UNESCO-World Education, Inc., it spearheaded the development of the Mindanao NGO Literacy Network. The Foundation played an instrumental role not only in the implementation of network activities and projects but also in building bridges to follow on activities. 

The UNESCO-World Education project entitled “Mindanao NGO Women Education Project: Expanding NGO Involvement in Functional Literacy in Muslim Mindanao” is a three(3) year project, designed to improve and strengthen the institutional capabilities of NGOs engaged in literacy work, through capability-building training workshops. Since its launching in 1996, the project has conducted training workshops in various areas of Mindanao, in response to the numerous training needs as raised and recommended by the NGO partners. World Education, in partnership with NDFCAI-WED spearheaded the establishment of the network and played a lead role as a bridging organization.

The Foundation sees the strategic role of networks in rapidly expanding and reaching a larger spread of individuals provided with qualified literacy programmes throughout Mindanao and in the Philippines. Most importantly, the formation of the Mindanao Network in collaboration with other existing literacy initiatives help create a positive and supportive environment for influencing the policy sphere in Muslim Mindanao.

This provides an account of the collaborative initiative between Notre Dame Foundation for Charitable Activities, Inc. – WOMEN IN ENTERRPRISE DEVELOPMENT (NDFCAI-WED) and its organized network of 19 local NGOs in all over the Island of Mindanao in southern Philippines. This initiative gained its momentum with the assistance of World Education, an international NGO; and the Literacy Division of UNESCO/Paris which are both promoters of Functional Literacy for Women. The initiative, Expanding Local NGO Involvement in Functional Literacy for Women in Muslim Mindanao, began in early 1996 and ended in May 1999.

The goal of the initiative was to increase functional literacy opportunities for women and girls in Muslim Mindanao. In order to achieve this goal, NDFCAI-WED (which works with a largely Muslim clientele in and around Cotabato City, Maguindanao) carried out a three-year institutional strengthening activity to increase the capabilities of a network of Mindanao-based NGOs to design, implement and evaluate functional literacy programmes for women and girls.

The NGOs that participated and became the part of the Mindanao Literacy NGO Network were selected based on their utmost need for training and institutional assistance in the promotion and implementation of literacy in their respective areas.

The local NGOs under the network represent almost all provinces in Muslim Mindanao serving multi-cultural communities (Lumads, Muslims, indigenous peoples and Christians); are generally small institutions and have limited operating budgets. The training opportunities and programme assistance offered through this collaborative initiative thus responded to a major need, as many NGOs had forgone staff training needs in order to use limited budgets for project implementation activities.

The staff of the network member NGOs actively participated in a wide range of capacity building training. The training provided were in the areas of: facilitator and advanced facilitator training; literacy materials development; management of literacy programmes; budgeting and financial management; evaluation of literacy programmes; culture of peace; community organizing strategies (basic and advanced); proposal development and fundraising; interagency coordination; and advocacy. In addition, yearly evaluation workshops engaged network members in an assessment of the year’s activities, the relevance of those activities to individual NGO needs, and the planning of the following year’s activities.

A number of innovative and well-tested by-products have emerged from network activities over the three years:

First, a broad range of training packages were developed that can be used in training NGO staff in the future. Many of these packages were developed by the NGO members of the network that took on responsibilities for training other network members in their specific areas of expertise. A training manual for literacy facilitators was developed in Filipino and will be widely disseminated. Materials that link literacy to income generation, health and other development sectors have been developed, tested and produced for the use of network members as well as by other agencies working in the field of literacy in Mindanao and other parts of the Philippines.

In addition to capacity building, considerable time and energy was invested in establishing the network’s role as an advocate for expanded literacy activities in the region and in working closely with local government units and provincial governments on the development of more comprehensive literacy strategies at the local level. The advocacy role of the network was highlighted at the February 1999 “Mindanao Literacy Summit”, organized by NDFCAI-WED which brought together 150 leaders and heads of NGOs, local and national government units and funding agencies to discuss the future of literacy work in Mindanao. 

The NDFCAI-WED is working closely with the Philippine National Non-formal Education Programme of the Department of Education, Culture and Sports, World Education and with UNESCO/Jakarta to secure nearly $1,150,000 funding assistance for programme implementation activities for the 1999-2000 period. As a result, the network was able to access funding from the Department of Education, Culture and Sports – Bureau of Non-formal Education and has been implemented by nine network members to reach an estimated 38,000 learners. Funding from UNESCO Jakarta provided assistance to five smaller NGO network members to help them expand existing literacy activities for another 200 learners. Funds received from USAID’s Office of Transitional Initiatives through World Education has enabled five NGOs to respond to literacy needs of an estimated 1,500 learners in areas with heavy concentrations of former Moro Liberation Front men and women. A second round of assistance through UNESCO Jakarta focus on linking literacy to UNESCO’s Culture of Peace Programme and will enable three members of the network to reach an additional 150 learners. Counterpart funding leverage during this same time period is estimated at $70,000.

Through participation in the initiative, opportunities for women’s literacy in Mindanao have expanded. More programmes are operating and more learners are enrolled; with over 80% of them being women and older girls. The institutional capacity of 19 partner agencies—mainly NGOs but also a number of literacy coordinating councils which are government agencies—have been increased.

Network members have learned the value of self-assessment and how to assess their own strengths and weaknesses. They have also demonstrated the use of this information to improve their practices. They have learned to identify problems in their programmes and look for local and regional resources to address those problems.

The network members grew to work with, share and learn from other NGOs and are grateful to realize that they would never have had the occasion to interact with each other had it not been for this initiative. NGO members of the network have learned to work more closely with government agencies and local literacy coordinating councils. They have learned from first hand experience that literacy programme implementation is enhanced by an environment that is politically, socially and economically stable.

Perhaps the most lasting contribution of the network activities over three years has been the recognition given to local groups for the dedicated time, energy and resources that they have dedicated to further expand literacy and basic education opportunities for women in the region.

I. Introduction

The NDFCAI-WED humbly started its literacy work in 1984 as a community extension arm of a local university. Armed with three staffs, the goal of the project then was to educate as many illiterate poor women and out-of-school youth in basic adult/functional literacy, continuing education and micro-enterprise. This is to help improve the socio-economic status, increase productivity, income and business of the women, enabling them to be empowered, economically productive and responsible members of their families, their communities and the society in general.

Since then the project WOMEN IN ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT has grown into a more complex service-oriented NGO. Now with a wide and diverse NGO network trained in literacy work, NDFCAI-WED is not alone to help empower thousands of Muslim women, Lumads and IP’s of Mindanao – to foster peace, build communities, promote sustainable development in Southern Philippines. Literacy efforts has been expanded reaching and spreading all throughout Mindanao.

Today, with funding support from USAID (since 1984), UNESCO World Education, Inc., Asian Development Bank (ADB), Asia Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU) and other donor agencies, NDFCAI-WED and its network of partner NGOs are reaching out to high risks, unserved and marginalized sectors of Mindanao, Philippines.

II. Background of the Initiative

Mindanao was the site of a protracted conflict between the Moro Liberation Front and the central government of the Philippines for nearly 30 years. Even before the signing of the Peace Accords in 1996, efforts to create and install the government of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao signaled an end to central government’s political, social and economic neglect and opened the potential to turn the prevailing situation around.

A number of innovations during the past ten years in the area of basic education contributed to a more favorable climate for addressing women’s education and training issues. UNICEF’s Area which is Based on Child Survival and Development (ABCSD) Programme made headway through its Female Functional Literacy Component, which introduced a tailor made, highly decentralized approach in programme planning and literacy materials development that encouraged inter-sectoral collaboration at the grass roots level. ADB-funded Philippine Non-formal Education Project, which is ongoing, has promoted significant reform in the way of non-formal education activities are planned, implemented and evaluated, especially at the grassroots level. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)-funded Local Government Planning Programme has provided major assistance to expand local government’s role in providing basic services such as education and literacy. This programme has included a major gender perspective thus helping those implementing programmes at the local level better understand the need for addressing women’s social, economic and educational issues.

At the same time, the role of civil society in providing education and training opportunities has increased significantly in Mindanao. NGOs have become more involved in basic education and literacy. An assessment in the early 1990s of institutional performance demonstrated that staff development was a major need, as was the strengthening of NGO institutional capacity to better plan, implement and evaluate literacy programmes for women. Although the number of learners in programmes was limited through the early 1990s, NGO programmes were seen by many as offering important opportunities for expansion. The basic premises behind the network initiative were thus to work with NGOs in Mindanao and to help NGOs meet the increasing demand for women’s literacy and training activities that the government could not meet.

III. Target Groups

Women and older girls were the ultimate beneficiaries of the initiative. Female literacy rates in Muslim Mindanao were estimated at 42% in the early 1990s in comparison with 89% at the national level. It is well known and well documented that women and girls in Muslim Mindanao have traditionally been less served by the formal education system and social services for a range of cultural, social, political and economic reasons.

Local NGOs and their staffs were considered the intermediate beneficiaries of activities carried out through the initiative. In order to reach girls and women with improved literacy programme practices, the activity was designed to address the capacity building needs of NGOs. Enhanced institutional capabilities to design, deliver and evaluate literacy training for women were seen as critical primary investments in developing future programmatic efforts of the participating NGOs.

The 19 network partner agencies that participated in the initiative are included as Annex A of this report. These include both NGOs and literacy coordinating councils, the latter being groupings of governmental and non-governmental groups.

IV. Objectives

The development objectives of the three-year activity were:

a. to increase functional literacy opportunities for women and girls in Muslim Mindanao, and

b. to improve the institutional capabilities of regional and local NGOs to design, implement and evaluate functional literacy programmes for women and girls.

The immediate objectives of the initiative included the following:

a. Staff from participating NGOs will have an increased capacity to plan, implement and evaluate female functional literacy programmes;

indicator: increased number of NGO staff trained in materials development, planning and implementation of literacy programmes, and evaluation of functional literacy programmes for women.

b. Staff from participating NGOs will have developed and implemented a strategy for replicating capacity building activities within their own organizations as well as with NGOs in their geographic area

Indicators: degree of horizontal spread of capacity building training within participating NGOs and degree of geographic expansion of network over the three years.

c. NGOs will have adapted or prepared new literacy materials for use in female functional literacy programmes

indicator: literacy materials developed, tested, produced, disseminated and in use by participating NGOs.

d. Functional literacy classes will have been organized for an increased number of women and girls in both urban and rural areas of Mindanao

Indicators: increased number of NGOs offering female functional literacy programmes for women and girls; increased number of girls and women enrolled in functional literacy programmes.

e. Implementing NGOs will be involved in a regional network focused on expanding functional literacy opportunities for women

indicator: existence of a regional network of NGOs concerned with functional literacy for women and literacy linked to income generation.

f. Cooperation and collaboration will have increased between government and NGOs on issues related to women’s education, life skills training, maternal and child health, and income generation skills training

Indicator: increased number of instances of cooperation and collaboration between NGOs and government evidenced by joint development of literacy materials, sharing of material and human resources, joint literacy programme development and policy dialogue.

V. Implementation Strategy

NDFCAI-WED, true to its vision of realizing a literate Mindanao, expanded its services, not only to serve the learners of its communities but also worked towards assisting, facilitating the institutional development and growth of Mindanao NGOs engaged in humanitarian activities. Generally, these small NGOs in the past were into diverse development projects but has never undertaken literacy and adult education as a concern. Through the UNESCO and ACCU projects, NDFCAI-WED pushed for advocating and exposing other NGOs in the rudiments and procedures of integrating literacy in all project activities. NDFCAI-WED networked, forged alliances and partnerships with both the NGOs, the civil societies and more, particularly the government. Today, there are nineteen(19) partner NGOs which are trained institutionally capable and prepared to implement a literacy project. These NGOs are located all over Mindanao and are implementing projects in high risks, unreachable areas of Muslim Mindanao where peace and order are the major problems to contend with.

This network was realized through the assistance of the World Education, Inc, an international NGO based in Boston, MA. (USA) and the bridging role of NDFCAI-WED.

Staff from World Education’s office in the Philippines participated on a regular basis in all activities, with staff from World Education/Boston participating in a limited number of activities each year. Initially, staff from the Literacy Division of UNESCO/Paris provided oversight for the implementation of activities initially. During the second year of implementation, oversight of the activity was transferred to the Education Advisor at the UNESCO Office for Science and Technology in Jakarta. UNESCO staff from both offices made site visits over the three years. The Education Officer from UNESCO/Jakarta conducted the mid-term evaluation.

In turn, NDFCAI-WED, realizing the important need of placing muscles to the bones have source out, established linkages and partnership with different international and local institutions who are interested in bringing development through literacy. Its role has not only been limited to finding financial assistance to its own institution but has widened its horizon to accommodate and include all network partners for them to use their learned skills in literacy. The Foundation serves as “guarantee” to donor agencies for smaller institutions to be able to access funds.

The strategy is to create a core group of well-trained and capable NGOs who would be able to replicate capability-building seminars for other NGOs as well as provide technical assistance to other NGOs in the areas of community organizing and literacy programme design. The network was able to collaborate with the Literacy Coordinating Councils (LCC), Department of Education, Culture and Sports and other agencies building channels of trust and commitment to promote joint literacy activities. The partnership that was established, highlights the involvement and participation of the Department of Education, Culture and Sports as resource people in training methods, materials development and facilitators training.

The NDFCAI-WED and other larger NGOs have shared their resources and small amounts of private funds to help other NGOs that are not yet well accustomed to competing with larger and more recognized agencies.

The project was carried out in three phases. The first phase focused on providing capacity building activities to a limited number of NGOs, which later served as the core planning and training group throughout the three years. The second phase brought about an increased in the number of NGOs and with the training provided by the member NGOs organized during the first phase. In the third phase, additional NGOs were added to the group and there was a major focus on consolidation of project learning, advocacy work and the development of proposals for securing funding for expanding literacy programme for a larger number of learners.

Each phase of the project initiative began with an assessment of NGO institutional capabilities to plan, implement and evaluate functional literacy programmes. These assessments were the central aspect of not only an initial/yearly review by each NGO and of its capacity, but also as an end-ofthe-year review of accomplishments and improvements. The yearly assessments provided valuable information on NGO training needs and allowed organizers to plan training activities in direct response to individual and collective needs.

Training and capacity building activities were practical, contextualized and hands on. Each training activity offered an opportunity for immediate application of training content and skills to the specific situation in which each NGO was working. Training activities were held in a number of different locations in the Mindanao region, thus giving the network NGO staff the opportunity to visit other projects to see first hand what their partners in the network were doing at the grass roots level. The opportunity to learn first hand from the experiences of other NGOs was a critical element of learning that took place in network activities. National and local resource persons were largely responsible for facilitating training and capacity building activities, with only limited number from international experts. This option helped local groups look for local, time tested solutions to local problems.

VI. Project Accomplishments and Outcomes

The progress reports; the mid-term evaluation; interviews with participating NGOs; the outcomes of the First Mindanao Summit on Literacy; and a retrospective assessment of activities undertaken over the project’s three year implementation all demonstrate that the initiative has been successful in meeting its two development objectives:

a. to increase functional literacy opportunities for women and girls in Muslim Mindanao, and

b. to improve the institutional capabilities of regional and local NGOs to design, implement and evaluate functional literacy programmes for women and girls.

Specifically, the network was able to accomplish the following:

a. The network expanded their literacy programming for women and girls through increased NGO collaboration with local government units to provide more literacy opportunities for women and girls in Muslim Mindanao.

b. Staff members from 19 partner organizations were trained in a range of issues related to literacy programme design, implementation, management and evaluation.

c. The bridging role the NDFCAI-WED has assumed enabled the network to access funding for programme implementation which helped provide an immediate and very practical opportunity for network members to apply what they have learned in training and capacity building activities to the real world of literacy work. In each instance, implementation activities include continued opportunities for network members to work with each other, to reflect on their experiences in programme implementation as it evolves and to address any weaknesses that may emerge.

The following section of this report presents the activities undertaken and result of the project by examining each immediate objectives established.

Objective 1: Participating NGOs will have developed an increased capacity to plan, implement and evaluate female functional literacy programmes

Capability Building Training Workshops. One of the most significant achievements of the project was bringing together like-minded organizations which are basically small and have difficulty of accessing funds for literacy implementation. Through the UNESCO-World Education project, the nineteen(19) member NGOs learn to work and share project experiences and institutional resources for a common goal of working towards a literate Mindanao.

While there is commonality of purpose and over-all goals towards literacy, education and training, the range of literacy services and delivery modes differ. Through the Mindanao NGO Network, small NGOs have been afforded institutional and staff development which where otherwise difficult to conduct due to scarce and limited resources. Today, there has been a significant improvement in institutional capabilities, a more focused literacy implementation and more particularly, staff competencies.

Network training activities were designed in response to needs identified by network members. Training activities were facilitated by a mix of local, regional, national and international consultants, with the bulk of the facilitation being done by regional and national experts. In many instances, network members were contracted on a fee-for-service basis to design and deliver training for their partnering organizations. In this way, the capacity of network members to be providers of services to other organizations was developed as was the concept of how NGOs can market their services to a wider range of organizations.

Capacity Building in Evaluation. From the outset of network activities, evaluation was viewed in terms of ‘evaluation for improvement’ rather than evaluation for judgement. The focus on the formative uses of evaluation thus shaped the training and capacity building efforts of the initiative.

In addition to specific training in evaluation of literacy programmes, participating NGOs were engaged in a five-part practical evaluation and planning exercise involving their respective organization and their participation in network activities. This process included:

• A yearly self-assessment that required each NGO to state and review its philosophy of literacy and the literacy methods used in its programmes; the number of learners served; the kind of programmes offered; and the level of financial, human and material resources invested in literacy activities.

• A training needs assessment, a by-product of the yearly self-assessment asks for basic information on what each NGO thought its training needs. This is both in terms of technical and/or sectoral training as well as its training needs in the areas of project planning, project management, literacy materials development and literacy programme evaluation.

• Yearly training and technical assistance plans were developed by network organizers and participating NGOs in response to the results of NGO training needs assessments. The development of this plan helped NGOs to make the connection between the results of needs assessment and the development of a strategy to address training needs.

• A yearly NGO literacy programme implementation plans that included not only the evaluation of the systems to support the delivery of literacy programmes but increased NGO capacity to measure learner and facilitator performance in literacy programmes.

• A yearly planning meetings of the NGO network was viewed as the culminating evaluation activity for participating NGOs in the network. This provided an opportunity for reflecting on the past year’s activities and the preparation of the next year’s training and technical assistance plan for the network.

Objective 2: Participating NGOs (agencies) will have developed and implemented a strategy for replicating capacity building activities with their own NGO (agency) and with other NGOs in their geographic area

Resource Generation Assessing Project Funds. While this project has primarily focused on institutional capability building for NGOs and not on funding for literacy activities, funding inevitably becomes a vital component for expansion and sustainability of literacy activities. And while the actual implementation of literacy projects was not a required activity for this project, NGOs feel that this is complementary to the capacity building.

The Mindanao NGO Network, again with NDFCAI-WED as a lead agency, is implementing the ADB-PNFED project in eleven (11) provinces of Mindanao, serving 38,500 learners. The learning materials (developed under the ACCU project and under World Education) are currently being used by the network in its literacy activities. The network supports the goals of the government on literacy and education.

Capacity for Replication and Re-echo of Network Training. Most network training activities were designed from a training of trainers perspective so that participating agencies would have training materials and training packages in hand for use in the training of other staff from their organizations. At the outset of the project, it has been clear that participating agencies were encouraged to select participants from their organizations for network training activities who would be able to share what they learned in the workshops with their colleagues upon their return from training. In so doing, network organizers were helping participating agencies think in terms of developing internal teams who could ensure the horizontal spread of the skills and information being developed through network training activities. While the issue of continuity in participation was difficult to manage, there was, over time, a greater appreciation on the part of network members for making sure that some of the same participants attended each training activity.

The greatest amount of horizontal spread of network training content into participating agencies was in the area of facilitator training and community organizing. Both topics were immediately applicable to the needs of the participating agencies and their staff.

During the initial selection process, care was given to ensuring as wide a geographic spread as possible. With the new intakes at the beginning of the second and third year of network activities, the same care was used in bringing groups from areas of Mindanao, which had not been part of the earlier coverage. By the end of the third year, all areas of Mindanao were represented, going well beyond the original conception of “Muslim Mindanao” and into areas with Lumads and indigenous peoples.

Objective 3: NGOs will have adapted or prepared new literacy materials for use in female functional literacy programmes

Instructional Materials Development. The goal of materials development was to assist other organizations with the development and adaptation of literacy materials to the needs of local learners. Each workshop resulted in the development of draft lessons of new literacy materials, for which participating agencies have the opportunity to further develop and pre-test their on-going literacy programmes. These activities provided working relationships with government agencies and demonstrate the critical role of the NGOs have to play in expanding literacy activities for women in Mindanao.

Under the ACCU-LRC project, eleven(11) learning materials were developed and one(1) audiovisual material was developed. The materials are being reproduced and utilized by network partners and other non-government organizations in their literacy implementation.

Under the UNESCO-World Education Mindanao Network Project, fourteen(14) prototype instructional materials were developed and are ready for printing. The problem of lack of printing funds is currently being faced.

The network organized one major literacy materials development workshop within the three-year project. National and regional resource persons served as workshop facilitators and where possible, maximum use was made of examples of literacy materials are being used in the region. The materials developed are now being used within their respective community and target learners. This is one of the concrete results, which demonstrate the relevance and usefulness of the materials.

The literacy materials development workshops were practical in orientation and provided participating agencies with an exposure to the principles of materials development but as well to the importance of the integration of meaningful development content with reading, writing and basic math skills. The workshops resulted in drafts of several sets of learning materials such as booklets, posters, primers and video all linked to family life, values formation, income generation, health, community development, gardening and the culture of peace. Another product of these workshops was the development of a better understanding on how to adapt existing literacy materials of other organizations for use with a new client group or in a different geographic area.

Objective 4: Functional literacy classes will have been organized for an increased number of women and girls in both urban and rural areas of Mindanao

The best statement of increased NGO capacity to plan and implement literacy activities for women in particular, and for the larger community in general, is the 38,500 new rural and urban learner “places” for 1999-2000. This increase in learning opportunities is linked to nearly $1,150,000 in new funding accessed by NDFCAI-WED to implement literacy projects in eight provinces (8) of Mindanao. Funding for these activities were secured through the development of proposals which were responsive to specific donor interests and concerns. Training on proposal development and accessing funding had been an important part of capacity building involved in the three-year initiative.

The challenge will be to sustain this level of funding for literacy programme implementation over time.

Objective 5: Implementing NGOs (agencies) will be involved in a regional network focused on functional literacy form women

The formation of a Mindanao Literacy Networking in collaboration with other literacy groups and organizations, helped creation of a more positive and supportive environment for influencing the sphere of national policies and goals on education. As presented during the Mindanao Summit, it underscored the real status of literacy in the Philippines.

Its establishment clearly indicated that there is a regional network of organizations very much concerned with the support and expansion of educational opportunities for women in Mindanao. The work of the network was featured and recognized during the 1999 First Mindanao Summit on Literacy organized by Notre Dame Foundation for Charitable Activities, Inc. – WOMEN IN ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT in Davao City.

It emphasized the need to focus on non-formal education, to promote literacy which has proven to be an effective stepping stone into building a more confident self-reliant learners elevating them into higher planes of efficiency, better health, community participation and civic consciousness. Through networking, we are able to provide literacy education and training by reaching out to the poor, most isolated and hard to reach communities.

The Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU) also sought to advocate, raise awareness and build consensus on the problems of illiteracy in the Asia/Pacific region. The ACCU LRC network serves as a common venue for the country member LRCs in the Asia Pacific to discuss vital issues on literacy, identify problems, discuss solutions and share information and experiences that worked in each country. The ACCU LRC network of the Asia Pacific, formalized common threads to forge partnership towards a stronger literacy agenda in the Asia Pacific.

Today, NDFCAI-WED looks into the future, hopeful with its network of partners, the Mindanao Literacy NGO Network for Philippines and local partners and the ACCU LRC network for the Asian Region.

Network activities have provided a forum for participating agencies to come together, discuss important issues and develop training responses to the specific needs of participating agencies.

Objective 6: Cooperation and collaboration will have increased between government and NGOs on issues related to women’s education, life skills training, maternal and child health and income generation skills training

Cooperation and collaboration have increased between NGOs and government on issues related to women’s education and training in Mindanao. This relationship increased because of the gradual devolution of responsibilities to the local level and the growing recognition that local NGOs represent viable means of reaching larger numbers of people with literacy promotion and work. At the same time, some of the increase in collaboration can be attributed to progress on peace and conflict resolution in the region, for which a large measure of the success of network activities related to this objective derive. Yet, much of the increase in collaboration and cooperation is due to the role played by NDFCAI-WED as the coordinator of network activities.

It is in this context that the Strategic Programmes for Enhancing Education and Development in Mindanao (SPEED-MINDANAO) Coalition, spearheaded by the Notre Dame Foundation for Charitable Activities, Inc. – WOMEN IN ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT (NDFCAI-WED), organized the 1 st Mindanao Summit on Literacy with the theme, “Reaching the Unreached through Literacy, Education and Training” last February 17-19, 1999 at Davao City. The 3-day summit were attended by 150 heads of institutions as well as non-government organizations strategically located all over Mindanao. The Summit Resolutions as approved, invoked all sectors, both the government and civil societies to work collaboratively towards the achievement of a literate Mindanao.

The February 1999 First Mindanao Summit on Literacy was a concrete manifestation of the growing potential of NGO/government collaboration. The presence of Governor Datu Zacaria Candao of Maguindanao and his strong advocacy for government collaboration with NGOs on literacy issues was made even stronger by his continued working relationship with NGOs on literacy implementation issues. The presence and participation of national educational authorities at the Summit clearly demonstrated the position of the national government and its support for increased government/NGO collaboration. The presence and participation of representatives of international donor agencies and of national foundations likewise signaled the support of another sphere for increased NGO-GO collaboration and cooperation.

The Regional Development Councils of Regions X and XII passed and approved resolutions fully supporting the Mindanao Literacy Summit Resolutions which invoke all local government units to appropriate local funds to specifically undertake literacy projects for and in collaboration with the civil society, NGOs and POs.

Today, fifty (50) learning classes are funded by the Provincial Government of Misamis Oriental and the Municipal Government of Sultan sa Barongis in Maguindanao with other (Local Government Unit) LGUs following suit with the network, being responsible for monitoring the implementation of the project.

VII. Challenges in the Future

The goals of the next phase of the development in literacy for women in Muslim Mindanao is to further strengthen and maintain the advocacy work of the NGOs and to continually seek for funding for literacy programme implementation.

It has been realized that networks are important venues through which organizations could discuss and thresh out various range of issues and various entry points for mutual sharing of resources.

The formation of a Mindanao Literacy Networking in collaboration with other literacy groups and organizations, helps creation of a more positive and supportive environment for influencing the sphere of national policies and goals on education. As presented during the Mindanao Summit, it underscored the real status of literacy in the Philippines.

It emphasized the need to focus on non-formal education, to promote literacy which has proven to be an effective stepping stone into building a more confident and self-reliant learners, elevating them into higher planes of efficiency, better health, community participation and civic consciousness. Through networking, we are able to provide literacy education and training by reaching out to the poor, most isolated and hard to reach communities.

ACCU sought to advocate, raise awareness and build consensus on the problems of illiteracy in the Asia Pacific. The ACCU LRC network is serving as a common venue for the country member LRCs in the Asia Pacific to discuss vital issues on literacy, identify problem, discuss solutions and share information and experiences that worked in each country. The ACCU LRC network of the Asia Pacific, formalized common threads to forge partnership towards a stronger literacy agenda in the Asia Pacific.

Today, NDFCAI-WED looks into the future, hopeful with its network of partners, the Mindanao Literacy NGO Network for Philippines and local partners and the ACCU LRC network for the Asian Region.