118K Bicolanos volunteer for DepEd reading program

By Connie Calipay


The Department of Education (DepEd) in Bicol on Friday, June 18, launched a community-based reading program dubbed “Brigada Pagbasa” as part of efforts to improve the basic and functional literacy levels of Bicolano learners.


In an interview, Brigada Pagbasa regional focal person Ma. Cristina Baroso said DepEd-5 now has 117,790 partners or volunteers for the program who would serve as reading facilitators or tutors for the learners in their communities.


Volunteers across the region participated during the launch of the initiative and the use of the Rapid Literacy Assessment and Leveled Readers for Reading Remediation.


“Due to the continuing threat of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic in the region, DepEd-Bicol requires that Brigada Pagbasa volunteer-teachers must be residents in the community where they intend to serve, either as reading facilitators or tutors for the learners in the same community,” Baroso said.


In a separate interview, DepEd-5 spokesperson Mayflor Marie Jumamil said the community-based reading program is unique since it is only being implemented in Bicol.


“It also seeks to bring together DepEd partners, experts, change-makers, and other stakeholders across all sectors to help all learners read and become functionally literate. It also aims to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of literacy as a foundation to learning,” Jumamil said.


She noted that the Brigada Pagbasa partners could choose from several methods of participation, such as being a volunteer reader wherein he or she will help Kindergarten to Grade 6 pupils become proficient readers by reading to them.


A volunteer tutor, on the other hand, will teach incoming Kindergarten and Grade 1 students for one hour per day.


“The volunteer can choose what they want to teach or not, depending on the assignment given by the school where the children want to study. Volunteer book donors will donate books and other reading materials for children and schools to use while volunteer support can provide food, teaching materials, or any equipment or financial assistance to be used by volunteers A, B, and C,” she added.


Baroso thanked their partners and volunteers for always being with the DepEd during the most difficult and challenging times.


All volunteer readers, she said, would be given a certificate of recognition or appreciation, while volunteer tutors would receive a certificate of teaching experience that they could use when applying for the Teacher-I item.


“Aside from the certificate, they will learn a lot, more on capacity building, and for the teacher applicants, they will be provided relevant teaching experience with a learner,” she added.


Baroso also said every volunteer would receive a resources kit.


Meanwhile, Gilbert T. Sadsad, DepEd-5 director, in a statement said the project is an offshoot to the Brigada Eskwela that aims to support the 3Bs advocacy or the “Bawat Bata Bumabasa” campaign of the DepEd central office.


“In Bicol, however, we are enhancing the advocacy, making it 5Bs: Bawat Batang Bikolano Bihasang Bumabasa,” he said.


The implementation of the Brigada Pagbasa program will begin on June 19 and culminate in October.


Spearheaded by the Education Support Services Division, the virtual launch gathered DepEd-5 and local government unit officials, as well as representatives of various government agencies and non-government organizations, such as the World Vision Development Foundation, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Children International. (PNA)