The Department of Education (DepEd) and Microsoft recently concluded a month-long series of virtual events for students across the Philippines throughout November, in celebration of National Reading Month. The program introduced Microsoft’s Reading Progress as part of a shared effort to drive literacy through reading comprehension for Filipino students.
“The National Reading Month serves as a reminder to us in light of our performance that we must double our efforts to close the learning gap, particularly in the area of reading, which is the cornerstone of learning,” said DepEd Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones.
Microsoft’s Reading Progress is an application built into Microsoft Teams that is accessible for free to 23 million students and 950,000 teachers within the Department of Education’s nationwide system. Reading Progress is an AI-powered tool designed to support and track students’ reading fluency, specifically reading accuracy, speed, and pronunciation. Students can record themselves through Reading Progress and submit their reading assignments to teachers. Teachers can assess their students’ reading progress through an automatically generated report. The tool is for K to 12 learners and has accessibility functions to accommodate those who have dyslexia and other learning challenges.
“Technology has been at the forefront of the world’s response to COVID-19, whether in healthcare, economic recovery, building digital skills or in this case, sustaining learning experiences for students of all ages,” said Microsoft Philippines Public Sector Director, Joanna Rodriguez. “We are committed to supporting the Department of Education’s many efforts to empower both learners and educators during this challenging time and to continue delivering innovation and lasting transformation for the Philippines.”
This year’s National Reading Month was themed “Bawat Bata Bumabasa Sa Kabila ng Hamon ng Pandemya,” (Every Child Reading Despite the Challenge of the Pandemic). With ongoing limitations to in-person events and face-to-face classes, schools and learning centers nationwide participated virtually in DepEd’s series of virtual activities throughout the month of November aimed to promote reading, improve literacy and upskill educators with innovative technology solutions.
DepEd conducted weekly reading sessions with reading ambassadors Secretary Leonor Briones, Undersecretary and Chief of Staff Nepomuceno Malaluan, Undersecretary for Curriculum & Instruction Diosdado San Antonio, Undersecretary for Finance Annalyn Sevilla, Undersecretary for External Partnership Tonisito Umali, Director for Bureau of Learning Delivery Leila Areola, and Microsoft’s Public Sector Director Joanna Rodriguez, who read award-winning Filipino literary pieces.
Capacity building sessions on effective story reading and use of Reading Progress and Microsoft Teams were conducted to help parents and teachers.
The Reading Progress tool was featured during the Reading Cup, a two-week gamified regional reading contest that assessed the reading fluency levels of students from Grades 7-12 and recognized exemplary readers. The culminating activity was held on November 29 with the Araw ng Pag-Basa Challenge, where students and teachers nationwide undertook a synchronized reading activity led by Secretary Briones.
“Through Reading Progress, learners can build reading skills through proactive, independent reading. At the same time, teachers are able to track the progress of their students’ reading capabilities more easily and efficiently. Again, we are demonstrating that Bayanihan is alive, and thank you once again, Microsoft Philippines, for doing your share in this effort to ensure that children become fluent readers,” said DepEd Undersecretary Diosdado M. San Antonio.
Moving forward, DepEd and Microsoft will continue their efforts to make reading an essential part of the lives of millions of Filipino students. “Let us celebrate our reading month, not just for a month but make it a habit for our learners to read and enjoy growing up with books,” said Secretary Briones.