International Literacy Day | 08 September 2022
Transforming Literacy Learning Spaces
The Philippine National Commission for UNESCO (PH NatCom) joins the world in the celebration of 2022 International Literacy Day with the theme: Transforming Literacy Learning Spaces which provides an opportunity to rethink the fundamental importance of literacy learning spaces to build resilience and ensure quality, equitable, and inclusive education.
Since 1967, International Literacy Day (ILD) has been commemorated annually to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights, and to advance the literacy agenda toward a more literate and sustainable society.
The Philippines’ sole UNESCO Learning City—-Balanga City—-is at the forefront of community literacy development. UNESCO recognized the City’s efforts in fostering lifelong learning opportunities for all and its continuing commitment to innovative learning spaces for its citizens of all ages. During the pandemic, Balanga City continued its programmes and transformed its environment to ensure the continuity of stakeholders’ engagement in learning and teaching literacy. The City implemented blended learning delivery by using television, radio, internet connection, printed modules, offline games and applications, and other platforms. To address learning and digital gaps, the City improved its Barangay and School Community Hubs by distributing Information and Communications Technology (ICT) equipment with offline literacy applications to barangays, schools, teachers, and students. This allowed them to utilize the applications despite the challenges of connecting to the internet. The City also upgraded its internet connectivity in public places in barangays for online classes, work, and business in Balanga. Moreover, the City’s Library facilitated learning for children by providing reading and writing materials, and some of the educational materials were digitized.
The UNESCO Learning City of Balanga, as an advocate for literacy and lifelong learning, has directed City Offices to hold training on literacy such as mental health literacy, digital literacy, financial literacy, gender and development literacy, entrepreneurship, livelihood, skills, and agriculture trainings for their stakeholders. Balanga City also conducted sessions on cookery and life skills development (e.g. national disaster preparedness, first aid, sex education) for learners with special needs.
Balanga City’s contribution and commitment to literacy was acknowledged by the Department of Education (DepEd) and National Literacy Coordinating Council. Hence, it garnered the National Literacy Award for the third time in a row as the Outstanding Local Government Unit (Component City Category), First Place, and Hall of Fame awardee.
In a recent on-site meeting with the PH NatCom, Balanga City Mayor Francis Garcia stressed that their strong partnership with academe, government agencies, non-government organizations, and private companies significantly contributed to sustain the city’s literacy efforts. “We continue to invite new partners to engage with us in strengthening our educational programmes so that we can reach out to more children, youth, adults, and women to benefit from our literacy initiatives and address their learning needs.”
Bataan Governor Jose Enrique Sandejas Garcia III stated that Balanga City and Bataan have consistently prioritized education and that the City of Balanga’s membership in the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities has provided opportunities to share the development of the City’s learning and literacy programs with other learning cities and with an international audience, which will lead to potential collaboration. He also said that through the network, Balanga City learns from other learning cities as they exchange ideas on how to enhance the strategies and methods of a City to make the UNESCO Learning City a more transformative, sustainable, safe, resilient, and learning environment for all.