By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
Amid challenges, Education Secretary Leonor Briones assured that the Department of Education (DepEd) continues to strengthen its efforts to ensure the full implementation of inclusive literacy.
Briones, during the 2018 National Literacy Conference and Awards (NLCA) held in Baguio City recently, recognized that “literacy has gone beyond being able to just read and write.” She also reported the latest efforts of the Department in boosting inclusive literacy such as integrating information and communication technology (ICT) in the school system; enhancing ICT literacy of learners, teachers, and school heads; and augmenting computer requirements in public schools and laptop units for mobile teachers.
“We include new developments like inclusive literacy in ICT,” Briones said. “This is truly wonderful because it will speed things up, it will speed up the learning process, and it will enable our learners to have access to information not only in the country but also in the rest of the world,” she added.
Briones noted other major interventions to ensure inclusive literacy include training programs for teachers handling learners with various disabilities, enhancement trainings for school heads and supervisors, development of instructional materials for children with disabilities, and implementation of early interventions, transition programs, and head-start programs.
While there are still challenges of implementing inclusive literacy such as population increase, dropout rate, and lack of resources, Briones commended the increased participation of teachers, students, the community, and partners in the effort to improve literacy for learners with exceptionalities.
Briones expressed her gratitude to various partners who have extended their assistance to the DepEd. “We also have the full support of many partner agencies, local government units, NGOs, private sector, faith-based organizations, and even individuals who take the initiative in contributing to literacy because they know that mentoring a child into a state of full literacy requires resources, requires love, requires mentoring,” she said. “And all of these, we endeavor to provide our learners,” she added.
Meanwhile, Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction and DepEd’s Literacy Coordinating Council (LCC) Chairperson Lorna Dig Dino encouraged participants “to connect with potential partners in implementing literacy programs and projects, and contribute to making the lives of learners better.”
Among the more than 450 participants present during the NLCA were DepEd regional directors and assistant regional directors, regional NLA coordinators and regional ALS focal persons, schools division superintendents and assistant schools division superintendents, division supervisors of ALS and formal education, district supervisors, principals of elementary and secondary schools, education program specialist for ALS, full-time district ALS coordinators, and ALS mobile teachers.
The event was also attended by local government unit (LGU) officials implementing literacy programs, barangay chairpersons actively involved in the universalization of literacy, heads and members of non-government and civil society organizations involved in literacy implementation, and heads and members of partner academic institutions.
The NLCA was held with the aim to bolster partnerships and community participation in improving inclusive literacy in the country. It also served as a venue where implementers of literacy programs and projects can share experiences and where best practices are recognized.
Anchored on the theme, “Inclusive Literacy through Integrative and Innovative Partnerships,” the event aspired to showcase and explore valuable practices on partnerships for inclusive literacy, successful partnership approaches for others to replicate, mechanisms for networking and linkages, and policy recommendations related to promoting collaboration for inclusive literacy, and to recognize literacy champions for the 2018 National Literacy Awards (NLA).
The two-day conference consisted of different plenary sessions, with topics such as updates on the Alternative Learning System (ALS) presented by Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Service and ALS G.H. Ambat, and the importance of collaboration to attain inclusive literacy discussed by Undersecretary for Legislative Affairs, External Partnerships, and School Sports Tonisito Umali, Esq.