Teach Anywhere: Game Changing Literacy and Numeracy Recovery Program Launches in the Philippines
Last month, the Department of Education (DepEd) launched its Basic Education report. Much of the report focused on a renewed commitment to revising the basic education curriculum and improving literacy and numeracy.
Vice-President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte said the revised K to 12 curriculums included a plan to lessen the number of learning areas from seven to five: “to focus on foundation skills and literacy and numeracy, particularly amongst disadvantaged students.”
Duterte’s statements couldn’t have come at a better time. Recent international assessments like the PISA (Programme for International Students) have shown the Philippines lagging in numeracy and literacy. The pandemic has only made these outcomes worse. Teachers are in crisis, not knowing what to focus on.
While many alternatives for literacy and numeracy interventions exist, many are too costly, too complicated, or have not been tested in the Philippines.
Enter: Teach Anywhere- a coalition of community practitioners committed to solving literacy and numeracy issues in the most underprivileged schools in the Philippines using simple and scalable solutions.
The main convenors of Teach Anywhere – Dr. Anton Lim and Jaton Zulueta, have over two decades of running education interventions in the poorest schools through their organizations, Yellow Boat of Hope and AHA Learning Center. Both organizations are multi-awarded and have impacted over 4 million students nationwide.
Teach Anywhere came about after Lim and Zulueta collaborated to run literacy interventions through the formers’ teacher network during the pandemic and saw that literacy and numeracy interventions were most effective only when multiple stakeholders were invested.
This prompted the duo to create a coalition in two key provinces: Bicol and Zamboanga Peninsula. AHA Learning Center would provide the technical support, and Yellow Boat of Hope will organize and mobilize the community. Each province needed a school division partner for institutional support and a university partner for research and development.
For Bicol, the key partners were DepEd Sorsogon and Bicol University as the key university partner. For the Zamboanga Peninsula, the key partners were DepEd Zamboanga Sibugay and DepEd Zamboanga City, with Ateneo de Zamboanga as the key university partner.
The key program in both provinces was Teaching at the Right Level (TARL), a revolutionary approach that improved learning outcomes made specifically for developing countries. TaRL is an evidence-based method in several countries with similar educational struggles, like the Philippines— including India, Zambia, and Kenya.
TaRL is based on the simple idea that children learn best when taught at the right level. Rather than teaching to a fixed curriculum or age-based grade level, TaRL focuses on assessing each child’s current level of learning and then providing targeted instruction to help them progress.
Unlike most interventions, TaRL is cost-efficient, using household materials that can be implemented in various sessions, including rural schools, urban slums, and refugee camps.
TARL is also resource efficient: designed to get the slowest kids to read a paragraph and multiply and divide in 60 days. In line with focusing on foundational skills like reading, writing, and arithmetic, TaRL helps children develop the critical thinking and problem-solving abilities essential for success in the 21st century.
A study in India showed that TaRL interventions led to a 60% increase in children who could read a simple paragraph in their local language after just 32 days of instruction. Another study in Kenya showed that TaRL interventions led to a 35% increase in students who could read a simple sentence in English in just one school term. A study in Nigeria showed that TaRL interventions led to a 20% increase in students who could read a simple story after one school term.
Teach Anywhere’s work in creating a similar impact in the Philippines has already begun, having started face-to-face training last year. Teach Anywhere has started training with 150 teachers in Ateneo de Zamboanga and with the Department of Education school divisions Zamboanga Sibugay and Zamboanga City; and has started training with 100 teachers in partnership with the Department of Education Sorsogon and Bicol University.
While the programs in these two provinces are ongoing, initial feedback has been tremendous. Teachers are working in mentor and monitor teams and have seen significant early improvement.