Reading Literacy in the Philippines. In the Philippines, the ability to read and write is a priority, so any effort or practices to promote literacy by the government, organizations, or even private individuals is greatly appreciated (Cristobal, 2015).
Before World War I, the literacy rate in the Philippines was at a dismal 20%. But it was one of the countries that experienced rapid school expansion in the late 1930s, according to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) 2006 Education for All Global Monitoring Report, and, as a result, literacy rates rose to the middle range during the 1950s (35%–75%). UNESCO has said literacy transitions are linked to educational expansion.
That is the prime reason why Philippines Department of Education collaborated with the United States Agency for international Development over the last three years to improve childhood literacy in the country through a program called Basa Pilipinas or “Read Philippines”. It aims to enhance reading skills in English, Filipino, and other mother tongues for one million pupils in grades one through three. It basically operates at classroom level yet it expands access to reading materials. The program also assists the DepEd in setting valid early grade reading standards and organizing teacher training in schools.
Trey Hicks of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee visited several Cebu elementary schools last October 26, 2016, to emphasize the need for commitment to childhood literacy in the Philippines. He led reading activities for the children and was joined by USAID Office of Education Chief Brian Levey.
Furthermore, it is found out through an evaluation of Basa Pilipinas in 2015 that there is increased fluency of students by an additional of 9 words per minute and also 23% advancement in reading comprehension. In fact, Basa Pilipinas has directly benefitted more than 1.6 million students, and 2 million more have been indirectly influenced. Since most of the education reforms Basa implemented were on the systemic and teacher-training level, these remarkable improvements should bring about the beginning of the progress in childhood literacy in the Philippines. (Lee, 2016 cited at https://borgenproject.org/childhood-literacy-in-the-philippines/)
According to the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Literacy Coordinating Council OIC Dina Ocampo in a speech during the 2014 National Literacy Conference and Awards, “It is through literacy that one is empowered to interact in his community and realizes his worth, what he can do and eventually make him do things that contribute in sustainable development of his society”.
The statement that society showed progress in terms of reading literacy, can be supported by the results from the National Statistics Office’s 2010 Census of Population and Housing (CPH) where it showed that 97.5% of the 71.5 million individuals who are 10 years old and older were literate or could read and write—an increase from the 2000 CPH record of 92.3% (https://www.literacy worldwide.org/blog/literacy-daily/2015/08/06/literacy-in-the-philippines-the-stories -behind-the-numbers).
Parental Involvement in Learning. Parental involvement has been defined as “any interaction between a parent and a child that may contribute to the child’s development or direct participation with a child’s school in the interest of the child” (Reynolds 1992). Research conveys the idea that parental involvement in reading readiness of children can help most effectively through providing learning reinforcement at home and associated with closed monitoring of children’s learning development.
In a research review by Rhoda McShane, Becher (1984) entitled, “Parent Involvement: A Review of Research and Principles of Successful Practice”, she highlighted the role that parents play as a big part in pupils’ achievements. In other words, many educators believe that the involvement of parents have great effect in child’s learning. This is because several research findings showed that parent involvement at the pre-school level is more often found in the form of involvement at home. Parent involvement at home includes interactions between parent and child and activities such a reading books to children which may have benefits to educational outcomes and would greatly contribute to early reading literacy skills (Powell, et al., 2012). Moreover, parental involvement in early childhood has also been correlated with higher reading scores, fewer absences, and not many behavioral issues on the students side (Hiatt-Michael, 2001).
Whereas the transition to kindergarten is an important developmental milestone for young children, their parents and teachers should work hand in hand to surpass this critical stage. It is just sad to note that even if preparing students for kindergarten transition success has been identified as a national priority, the willingness of the parents to involve in this preparation is rarely considered.
Parent involvement in school is not only beneficial to the students but also for the parents since they will be more aware of the needs of their child. They can also develop strong relationships and attitudes towards teachers, and it will be a lot easier for them to look for opportunities for their children (Laocque, Kleiman & Darling, 2011).
Curiosity regarding the ways in which parents help their children to develop the basic language skills for reading has been growing. In particular, the number of parent-child joint book reading experiences during early childhood is thought to set the stage for future differences in academic achievement. In line with this hypothesis, researchers have been exploring the process of interactive reading to trace parental involvement (http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/ 10.3102/00346543065001001).
However, it is inevitable to find inconsistencies in the results of investigation regarding parent involvement and academic performance. In some cases, the variety of operational definitions of both academic performance and parental involvement has resulted to some inconsistent findings about how beneficial parental involvement is, with some studies reporting positive correlations between the two variables (Singh, et al., 1995), and others reporting no relationship of parental involvement on students’ academic performance (Storer, et. al., 1995). This because parental involvement can take on diverse forms, thus, it can take on several meanings which are subjective to varying degrees.