ABC+ is a five-year USAID-funded program aimed at improving the early-grade reading, math, and social and emotional skills of children in the early grades (kindergarten to Grade 3) in the Philippines. The prominent feature of early-grade instructions in the K-12 curriculum in the Philippines is the MTB-MLE policy. From kindergarten through Grade 3, learners progressively acquire literacy skills in their native language (MT), Filipino, and English, transitioning to instruction in Filipino and English starting in Grade 4. In a country with 180-plus native languages, the delivery of MTB-MLE throughout the country can be daunting. The baseline study by ABC+ reflects that many children are left behind in school. Grade 2 learners’ decoding skills are underdeveloped, and their reading and comprehension abilities are weaker than their oral language skills. Although supplemental materials are available at the DepEd, teachers do not use these as often as intended.

In response to the challenges of early literacy development in the context of MTB-MLE, USAID/Philippines, DepEd, and RTI and its subcontractors co-developed a project to improve early-grade basic language skills, with an emphasis on enhancing early-grade reading (EGR) in the mother tongue and preparing to transition to Filipino and English.

ABC+ supports improved early-grade literacy, a better transition of reading ability to Filipino and English, more solid acquisition of foundational math concepts and skills, and improved social and emotional learning. ABC+ works with the Philippine DepEd in Manila, as well as with its regional- and division-level offices in Regions V (Bicol) and VI (Western Visayas) and selected districts of Maguindanao in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). The estimated beneficiaries are two million students, 36,000 teachers, 6,600 school heads, and 644 supervisors.

In March 2020, schools closed due to COVID-19, disrupting ABC+’s implementation, which started four weeks earlier. Most activities became remote, including teacher training. In December 2021, selected DepEd schools piloted face-to-face (F2F) classes. Beginning in January 2022, DepEd progressively expanded F2F classes in 6,000 schools as part of its learning recovery plan. ABC+ partnered with DepEd Region V to contribute to this effort in preparing the Recovering for Academic Achievement by Improving Instruction through Sustainable Evidence-Based Learning Programs (RAISE). This three-year learning recovery plan aims to ensure that the COVID-19 generation of learners does not suffer a disadvantage compared with past and future generations.

ABC+ seeks to achieve its overall objective through the following IRs:

  • IR 1
    Improved early grade instruction and delivery systems
  • IR 2
    Improved access to quality materials
  • IR 3
    Improved education system capacity and commitment to manage and implement interventions supporting effective early-grade instruction

Detailed background descriptions are in the Statement of Work (Annex 17).