LEGAZPI CITY: The United States government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) provided P27 million ($489,000) worth of instructional materials for 540,000 pupils in the Bicol Region.

Jennifer Crow, USAid Philippines acting deputy mission director, and USAid Philippines education director Dr. Thomas LeBlanc led the handover alongside DepEd Regional Director Gilbert Sadsad and other education officials at the Sto. Domingo Central School and Salvacion Elementary School in Albay province on August 22.

"We are working with DepEd so that children who are returning to school have access to age- and context-appropriate learning resources. Our presence here today affirms USAid's support and commitment to our shared vision of improving education outcomes for Filipino children," LeBlanc said.

These books represent the first batch of materials that USAid is providing to DepEd this school year as part of USAid's Advancing Basic Education in the Philippines (ABC+) project.

The reading materials were given to the children as they return to school in person for the first time in more than two years.

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More than 1.2 million early grade reading materials will be distributed to close to 7,000 public schools in Bicol, Western Visayas, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in the coming months to benefit 1.2 million Filipino children, bringing the total value of support through the ABC+ project to P63 million ($1,123,000).

Sadsad lauded the assistance given by the US government. He said many reading materials were destroyed due to three stronger typhoons that hit Bicol, specifically in Albay and Catanduanes, in October and November 2020.

"The continued support given by USAid's ABC+ project inspires us. As we receive help from stakeholders, we Bicolanos can give more for the sake of education," Sadsad said.

"We superintendents, assistant schools division superintendents, chiefs, and everyone must really lead in implementing these programs," he added.