With more than 170 languages, the Philippines is one of the most linguistically diverse countries in Southeast Asia and the world. In addition, Filipino and English are national languages, making it a multilingual and multicultural society. In 2012, as part of wider education reforms, the Philippine Department of Education (DepEd) launched the Mother Tongue Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) policy, which supports the development of students’ foundational literacy skills in their mother tongue, Filipino, and English by the end of grade 3.
Although MTB-MLE is solidly grounded in scientific evidence of how children learn to read, its implementation has been challenging in such a linguistically diverse country. To date, low reading and math skills persist among a significant portion of K-3 learners, placing them at a high risk of falling permanently behind in school and in life. Since 2014, RTI has supported DepEd to track and monitor early reading skills, results of which are available on USAID’s Early Grade Reading Barometer.
The ABC+: Advancing Basic Education in the Philippines project works with DepEd, local governments, and the private sector to address factors that contribute to low learning outcomes in Bicol (Region V) and Western Visayas (Region VI) and is also implementing a smaller set of interventions in select School Divisions in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
ABC+ operates in partnership with central and regional education officials, and local organizations to ensure that evidence-based solutions for improved early literacy and numeracy instruction can be adopted and sustained by the Philippine education system. The project also focuses on fostering a more equitable, inclusive, and nurturing climate for learning in the early grades as part of its social and emotional learning (SEL) focus.