THE US government announced a partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd) for a P2-billion project aimed to improve the reading, math, and socio-emotional skills of more than two million students.

In a statement on Wednesday, the US Embassy announced the Advancing Basic Education in the Philippines (ABC+) program in partnership with the DepEd. The project costs $38.5 million or around P2 billion and will provide assistance to two million students in Regions 5 (Bicol Region) and 6 (the Western Visayas). The project is also to be implemented with RTI International, The Asia Foundation, SIL LEAD, and Florida State University.

US Chargé d’Affaires John Law said that ABC+ is part of US efforts to upgrade the education system in the Philippines, in which this will help alleviate poverty by allowing open doors to education for those in need.

“As a friend, partner, and ally, the United States remains committed to the quality of basic education for the benefit of all Filipinos,” he said.

Education Secretary Leonor M. Briones said that the program is crucial to the goals of DepEd to improve the education system nationwide, “especially now that we are intent to pivot our focus from improving access to enhancing the quality of basic education.”

ABC+ also aims to improve teacher training and management. The project hopes to improve teachers’ and administrators’ capacity to address the needs of schools in Bicol and Western Visayas. ABC+ will work with local government units (LGUs) and the private sector to ensure the program is backed by adequate resources.

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) board member Alberto P. Fenix, Jr. said that the PCCI, a partner organization for the program, “fully support(s) this project, which will better prepare our children for the world of work.” — Gillian M. Cortez