DepEd, USAID strengthen partnership for digital inclusion, gender equality in basic education

Published October 27, 2021, 2:56 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

(File photo from DepEd)

Recognizing that there are gaps that need to be filled in basic education, the Department of Education (DepEd) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) reiterated their commitment to further strengthen digital inclusion and gender equality.

“We would like to express our appreciation to USAID for thinking about our disadvantaged learners, and for upholding the rights to equal and quality education for all Filipino children,” Education Secretary Leonor Briones during a partnership program held early this month.

In 2020, DepEd and USAID developed 200 literacy primers and interactive e-books in 11 mother-tongue languages across the Philippines.

Upon uploading in the DepEd Commons as part of e-resources, the e-books have been downloaded more than 11,000 times by teachers and learners.

USAID has also sponsored 16 DepEd TV episodes for Grades 2 and 3, which are culturally acceptable in content, and formulated to promote gender fairness and gender equality. For this year, USAID is planning to sponsor 16 more episodes from Kindergarten to Grade 3.

DepEd Undersecretary for Administration Alain Del Pascua noted that “technology is already bringing about a profound transformation in education in ways we see unfolding before our very own eyes and in new ways that we haven’t dreamt of yet.”

Pascua expressed hope that with the support of USAID and All Children Reading Philippines, “we are also achieving another milestone towards inclusive education for all.”

Addressing gaps in gender equality, connectivity

For USAID Director for Philippine Education Office Thomas D. LeBlanc, “there will be no gender equality as long as there is a gender gap in connectivity, skills, jobs, online safety, and without addressing the digital divide.”

Moving forward, DepEd and USAID are set to include Filipino sign language insets in over 200 DepEd TV episodes to promote inclusivity for learners with sight, speech, and hearing impairments.

The partnership also aims to convert over 200 DepEd TV episodes to Radio-based Instruction materials and translate over 50 DepEd TV episodes into mother tongue language.

USAID also expressed its support for the empowerment of girls by creating programs that encourage breaking gender stereotypes in learning and empowering girls to claim their rights to digital inclusion.

For the part of DepEd, it expressed commitment to sustaining these initiatives.

Information and Communications Technology Service Director Abram Abanil said that part of DepEd’s commitment is also to scale this up with the competencies required in the curriculum.

“And of course, delivering these to the hands of our learners and teachers using television, online platforms, and radios,” he added.