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DepEd Bicol launches 5Bs to improve reading proficiency

Elementary pupils from a public school read books during break time as part of the education department’s program to encourage younger learners to develop their reading habit. Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY---The Department of Education (DepEd) in the Bicol region has launched the 5Bs, “Bawat Bicolanong Bata Bihasang Bumasa” program that would help improve the reading proficiency of some 76,000 Bicolano learners who are considered non-readers out of 1.8 million students in the region.

Gilbert Sadsad, DepEd Bicol regional director admitted during a press conference that there are 76,000 students from Grade 1 to Senior High School across the region who are either struggling to read or unable to read.

Sadsad’s admission came after several public school teachers in senior high school assigned in far-flung areas in the region told Bicol Mail that they are facing difficulty and challenges as numerous senior high school students at present have low level of competencies and could not read well forcing them to work during weekends even without pay just to improve the students’ level of reading proficiency.

The teachers believed that the poor reading habit and poor level of competencies of these senior high school students started from the elementary level.

The challenges according to the teachers are lack of reading materials and students’ lack of interest in reading as they preferred to use their cell phones and electronic gadgets instead of reading books. The parents’ failure to instill the importance of reading to their children is also one of the culprits, they said. Other factors attributed by Bicolano public school teachers assigned in far-flung areas why some students have low level of competencies and are unable to read could be due to poverty resulting in poor nutrition during formative years, lack of reading materials, lack of parental attention and guidance to encourage their children to read and study, aside from unregulated use of cellphones and electronic gadget, and social media.

Based on the recent data of the Philippine Statistics Authority, Bicol region has a poverty incidence of 26.8 percent in 2018, higher than the national average of 16.6 percent.

While according to 2015 figures of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Bicol has a high rate of malnutrition with 36 percent of children from 5 to 10 years old were stunted and 39 percent of 10 to 19 years old also stunted.

“There are or something (like) 76,000 non-readers, struggling readers from Grade 1 to senior high school in initial results of 2019 study but we’re still reviewing the data. Once the data is verified thoroughly, we will release the study and data,” Sadsad said.

“That’s why we are implementing program (like the) “Bawat Bicolanong Bata Bihasang Bumasa” focusing on every child to be a reader. In Masbate, we have Project Reader and in Iriga City and Camarines Norte is Operation Basa. We hope this will address our problem on non-readers,” he added.

The data on Bicolano non-readers were based on results of pretests administered by the Philippine Informal Reading Inventory (Phil-IRI) between July and August 2019.

Phil-IRI, an initiative of the department’s Bureau of Elementary Education, is an informal reading inventory consisting of graded passages designed to determine a student performance in oral reading, silent reading, and listening comprehension.

To address the non-readers problem among Bicolano students from Grade 1 to Senior High School, the department launched the 5Bs, “Bawat Batang Bicolano Bihasang Bumasa” in every school aimed at meeting the department’s challenge that every Filipino student should know how to read.

Anchored on the Every Child A Reader Program (ECARP), the 5Bs campaign is designed to equip Bicolano learners with strategic reading and writing skills to make them independent young readers and writers.

The flagship program also seeks to make every Filipino child able to communicate proficiently in both English and Filipino through effective reading instruction.

DepEd’s 5Bs program is a response to the 3B (Bawat Bata Bumabasa) challenge to develop the reading proficiency of the Bicolano learners.

The program was launched in 2019 through a regional memorandum issued by Sadsad with all schools division offices enjoined to establish a reading intervention project to ensure the implementation of the initiative.

The guidelines, said that all intervention programs shall be based from available data on the status of reading ability of learners such as Philippine Informal Reading Inventory (Phil-IRI) report and other assessment tools, which will provide a more detailed diagnosis of reading difficulties and disabilities of learners.

Sadsad also emphasized the importance of learning resource development, specifically the development of reading materials, as an indispensable component of any reading intervention program.

“We cannot teach reading without books and the only way to teach reading is to provide opportunities for reading texts.,” he said

Sadsad urged the Bicolano teachers and school heads to focus on intensifying their campaign in reading proficiency as a response to the 3Bs or “Bawat Bata Bumabasa” challenge of the DepEd.

Similarly, the department is crafting intervention programs and reviewing curriculum to enhance the level of competencies of children specifically in schools located in far-flung areas of the region.

“We want to go back to the level of children competencies. We are prioritizing the last smile school. The program will be piloted in Bicol last smile school through kite flying scheme program as we want our children to see how high the kite is flying, meaning we want our children’s level of competencies and reading habit be improved like the kite,” the DepEd official said.

Mayflor Marie Jumamil, DepEd Bicol information officer, also said during the press conference that teachers across the region are working persistently to ensure the 1.8 million students could read and improve the level of competencies as primary goal of the education department.

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