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Filipina educator wins International Literacy Award

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WASHINGTON—Yvette Tan, a Filipino educator and researcher of the Education Development Center, Inc. was one of the top six awardees during the International Literacy Day held in Washington DC on September 7.

She was actively involved in multi-media technology on education data gathering covering the southern Philippines provinces including Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu and the Zamboanga Peninsula.

Tan’s innovative technique on “The improved collection and use of student reading performance data in the southern Philippines” made her work an outstanding project that bested more than 450 submissions from 25 countries.
The study delved on the use of affordable technology such as the cellular phones through SMS messages (texting), which is very popular in the Philippines.

This enabled classroom teachers to submit on-the-spot reading performance tests from their classrooms directly to the Department of Education (DepED) administered database. Each teacher was asked to submit his/her own students reading tests results directly into the database of the DepEd head office in Manila, notwithstanding the fact that these provinces are in the southern tip of the country.

Research shows that timely feedback taken immediately after a student is assessed can greatly influence the active learning process even in these areas far from the national capital.

This enabled the many teachers on instructional innovation such as what would and would not work, and what to do next, thereby improving the reading performance of the students.  Such technology is cheap, affordable and very accessible to the teachers.

After confirming that close to 90 percent of the public school teachers in the Philippines are active cell-phone users, the Education Development Center, Inc. based in Newton, Massachusetts developed this plan.

According to Dr. William Potter of the EDC, “that the Philippines’ Department of Education, still uses a paper and pencil data collection system that produces results in a year and a half or even more considering the archipelagic geography of the country, takes too long for the data to be used effectively to improve instructional system at the school and district level.”

With this simple ingenuity based on grassroots level, this had impacted more than 35,000 school children, who improved their reading skills.

The EDC spearheaded the project in coordination with Education Quality and Access for Learning and Livelihood Skills (EQuALLS) based in Makati City and organized the “Whole School Reading” program with focus on Reading Skills and Comprehension of both the teachers and students alike.

The EQuALLS projects aims at increasing access to quality education for elementary school children and to relevant learning and livelihood skills for those out-of-school children in Regions 9 and 12, and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.


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