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DepEd, World Vision launch literacy project

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The Department of Education (DepEd) and World Vision have launched Brigada Pagbasa, a movement that seeks to enhance the reading skills of the Filipino children.

In his speech, Tonisito Umali, DepEd Undersecretary for Legislative Affairs, External Partnerships, and Project Management, said the initiative promotes community participation in time for school opening, bringing together experts, policy-makers and other stakeholders across all sectors-- from international and local agencies, as well as public and private groups.

"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 (World Vision has been doing this kind of project in other shapes and forms in Baseco and other places and I can see how effective it is in helping kids read and also our teachers who already have a lot of work in the schools)," Umali said.

While the DepEd implements programs and strategies which help young learners read, Umali said there are still few students who cannot read or read with comprehension even if they have gone up to a higher grade level.

According to the United Nations' (UN) 2016 report, the Philippines has the highest literacy rate at 97.95 percent among Southeast Asian countries such as 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.

It also reported there is still a staggering number of Filipino children who face literacy challenges despite the country's improvement from the past years.

In line with this, World Vision Philippines executive director Rommel 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 said.

"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 added.

Citing that Brigada Pagbasa promotes the concept of bayanihan or partnership between public and private institutions, Umali said the project would create opportunities for all stakeholders to contribute possible solutions to close the current gaps in Philippine education.

Brigada Pagbasa will begin in November in several communities across the country to educate every Filipino about the value of reading in line with the celebration of the National Reading Month.

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