MANILA – The United States government has provided PHP23 million ($392,000) worth of early-grade reading materials to the Department of Education (DepEd) in Bicol, the US Embassy in Manila said Tuesday.

In a news release, the Embassy said the handover was led by visiting US Agency for International Development (USAID) Deputy Assistant Administrator LeAnna Marr as part of her visit to the Philippines from Oct. 17 to 21 to strengthen US-Philippine partnerships in the education sector.

Since 2019, USAID has trained more than 8,000 educators and distributed more than 6.62 million early-grade reading materials in the Bicol region.

Marr, who serves as Acting Senior Coordinator of US International Basic Education Assistance, also met beneficiaries of USAID-sponsored programs focused on youth development and out-of-school youth (OSY) education and employment.

In addition to Bicol, Marr also visited Sorsogon and Manila where US government programs support enhancing the quality of education for Filipino children.

In Sorsogon, she visited a USAID-supported inclusive education community resource center and participated in a storytelling session for blind children that was also translated into Filipino Sign Language for deaf children.

To support inclusive education for children of all abilities, USAID has trained teachers in inclusive education strategies, developed inclusive education materials, and helped establish a disability screening and referral system that has more than tripled the enrollment of children with disabilities in project areas.

In Manila, Marr joined DepEd officials to witness the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) by USAID Philippines Mission Director Ryan Washburn and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Country Representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov to formalize a new partnership in education between the two agencies.

The USAID and UNICEF agreed to closely coordinate efforts to improve the quality of early-grade learning, advance second-chance education for OSY, promote learning continuity, and explore opportunities to expand existing education initiatives.

“We at USAID recognize that we can only fully and successfully advance inclusive and resilient growth if we work together with local actors and like-minded partners,” said USAID Mission Director Washburn.

“By collaborating and leveraging each other’s unique resources, assets, and skill set, we are able to strengthen our support to the Philippine government as it addresses challenges in the education sector.”

For the past 60 years, USAID has worked with the Philippine government and local organizations to achieve shared development goals, investing more than USD5.25 billion to support the Philippines since 1961. (PR)