Improving Literacy Beyond School Walls

Save the Children is an International, non-government (nonprofit) organization focused on providing services and support to children in 120 countries around the world. Literacy Boost is a key education program for Save the Children, providing student materials, teacher professional development, assessment programs, and community based programs to target communities.

Literacy Boost is a particularly important program in the Philippines.  Students often have difficulty accessing education, particularly in rural areas.  In Fall, 2014, I conducted a program evaluation for Save the Children Philippines to help the organization better understand how programs and resources were being implemented in the classroom by teachers following intensive professional development.  I spent five weeks in the Philippines including one week of classroom observations and interviews in Metro Manila and two weeks of observations in South Central Mindanao.  From the executive summary:

Literacy Boost, a comprehensive community-focused literacy program, was implemented by the Philippine Country Office of Save the Children in two target areas beginning in 2012. Key among the strategies included in Literacy Boost is a proprietary teacher professional development program designed to improve literacy instruction in targeted primary grade classrooms. The professional development compliments a national curricular shift to “mother tongue-based multilingual instruction” mandated by the Philippine Department of Education (DepEd). This evaluation was conducted in the two Save the Children program implementation areas to assess the level to which trained teachers are implementing Literacy Boost Strategies in their classrooms. Research teams observed 29 classrooms, 10 in Metro Manila and 19 in South Central Mindanao, and conducted interviews with school administrators, teachers, and students to determine the extent to which strategies were being implemented and to answer six specific research questions related to program implementation.

In addition to the importance of the field research, the experience provided an incredible opportunity to see the Philippines from a non-tourist perspective, immersing myself in the communities and the culture.  I made connections with incredible educators and community activists who are working against generational poverty and historically low literacy rates in incredibly resource-scarce communities to make a difference in the lives of thousands of students.  My final report will be released by Save The Children, but here are some of the pictures from my experience.

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