MANILA, Philippines - Over four million Filipino students will have an opportunity to improve their math and reading skills, thanks to the Learning, Equity, and Accountability Program Support Project (LEAPS).
The World Bank's board of executive directors approved a $300 million loan for the LEAPS project, which will provide training for around 36,000 teachers and 12,000 principals and head teachers in five of the country's poorest regions.
"Through LEAPS and with the help of World Bank, DepEd (Department of Education) will be able to advance the basic education agenda of the government. To deliver quality education, we need to empower not only our learners, but also our teachers,” said Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro.
"LEAPS will strengthen accountability and incentives for teachers; improve teaching and learning in early grades, especially in reading and math; and address the needs of our disadvantaged learners."
LEAPS will provide support for training Grades 1 to 3 teachers and school principals in reading and math. The project will be implemented in Regions V (Bicol), VIII (Eastern Visayas), IX (Zamboanga Peninsula), Cordillera Administrative Region, and CARAGA.
The project will also provide incentives for better performance, as well as invest resources to improve the quality of data related to the education of disadvantaged groups. The data will help assess the extent of their access to basic education services.
"LEAPS directly supports the President’s Social Contract, which considers education as an important strategy for investing in the Filipino people, reducing poverty, and improving national competitiveness," said Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima.
The five regions where the project will be implemented are considered the poorest in the country and have high dropout rates, especially between Grades 1 and 2. The regions also have a significant population from indigenous communities and other disadvantaged groups.
The project's target beneficiaries are teachers, public school students, students from indigenous communities, children with disabilities, children living in remote or difficult-to-access locations, and out-of-school youth.
These five regions have 14,121 elementary and secondary schools; 116,587 school teachers; and approximately 4,038,780 students.
“Good reading and math skills are vital tools for learning and help children succeed in school and their future careers. These are skills that children need for understanding their lessons well, developing their problem-solving capabilities and critical thinking, and achieving their full potential as human beings and citizens of the country,” said World Bank Philippines Country Director Motoo Konishi.
Lynnette Perez, World Bank Senior Education Specialist and Project Team Leader, said the bank is backing LEAPS since it aims to provide a better foundation for lifelong learning and a more efficient and effective education system.
"LEAPS is all about ‘Learning for All’. The World Bank’s Education Strategy adheres to investing in early grade reading and math interventions, investing smartly through strengthening systems of accountability and incentives, and ensuring that quality education is accessible to everyone, including disadvantaged groups," she said.