Cotabato City—The US government has launched new activities to help improve the quality of education in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) held the activities on March 14 and 15 to also strengthen the region’s adaptation to the effects of Climate Change.
USAID Deputy Mission Director Rebekah Eubanks joined BARMM officials—led by Cabinet Secretary Mohd Asnin Pendatun and Deputy Minister Haron Meling of the Ministry of Basic, Higher, and Technical Education (MBHTE)—to launch a Php15-million ($273,000) technology-based education program in pilot areas in the Bangsamoro region.
Under the USAID Beginning Reading Program, tablets are used to deliver reading instruction to students in Kindergarten through Grade 3.
A statement sent by the U.S. Embassy said the tablets contain early grade reading materials including video-based beginning-reading instructional modules in Hiligaynon, Central Bikol, and Magindanawn.
“USAID works with national and local government partners to introduce innovations that will ensure learning continuity and improve literacy, including reading proficiency of early grade learners,” said Deputy Mission Director Eubanks.
“As a friend, partner, and ally, the United States will continue to support BARMM in providing learners with quality education and the competencies that will enable them to thrive and have successful futures,” she said.
MBHTE Deputy Minister Meling described USAID’s interventions as “valuable tools to improve the learning of the Bangsamoro children.”
“We welcome the Beginning Reading Program as it will ensure the learning of children through portable video devices that can work even without the internet,” Meling said, adding that: “We will work together to ensure that no Bangsamoro child will be left behind by providing inclusive and sustainable education.”
Cabinet Secretary Pendatun said: “We want to express gratitude to USAID for their support to the whole Bangsamoro region. We will continue to serve with pure hearts and sincere intention to give Bangsamoro children a brighter future.”
Meanwhile, Deputy Mission Director Eubanks launched the Education Sector Mechanism with Cotabato City Mayor Mohammad Ali Dela Cruz Matabalao on March 15.
The Embassy statement said the mechanism will allow education stakeholders in the government and private sector to identify challenges and areas of collaboration to improve the city’s quality of education.
Through its ABC+ Project, the USAID provides early-grade reading materials for students and supports teacher development to improve basic education outcomes in literacy and social and emotional learning for all Bangsamoro children, the statement said.
The USAID Deputy Mission Director also handed over Automated Weather Station (AWS) equipment to Mayor Matabalao for the city government to collect weather and climate data and provide real-time weather monitoring and assessment.
Mayor Matabalao said the equipment will help enhance the city’s disaster management and mapping capabilities which will contribute to the region’s climate resilience.
“Building a resilient city requires sharing of experience within and among our communities,” Matabalao said.
Matabalao said he looked forward “to more joint cooperation and positive progress in mainstreaming climate adaptation, mitigation, and disaster risk reduction actions in our respective local land-use plans, local development plans, and zoning ordinances.” Through its Climate Resilient Cities project, USAID is improving the resilience of six cities in the Philippines, namely, Batangas, Borongan, Cotabato, Iloilo, Legazpi, and Zamboanga, to adapt to, mitigate, and manage the impacts of climate change and other disasters.