By Zaldy De Layola

(Photo courtesy of DSWD’s Facebook page)

MANILA – Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian on Tuesday said the agency is ready to collaborate with the Department of Education (DepEd) to support the latter’s learning program geared toward the reduction of illiteracy in the country.

Gatchalian made the remarks following the completion of the pilot implementation of the DSWD’s “Tara, Basa! (Let’s Read) Tutoring Program” at the Rizal High School in Pasig City on Monday.

He said Pasig Lone District Rep. Roman Romulo, chair of the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture, is supportive of the DSWD’s plan to partner with DepEd to promote literacy.

“Gaya nga ng sabi ni Cong. Roman na all the reforms are there, and gusto lang po naming sabihin sa DepEd na in any of those reforms na kakailanganin ninyo ang DSWD, dahil alam nyo naman na kami yung may konting financial muscle to be able to incentivize beneficiaries, huwag na huwag po kayong mag-aatubili na magsabi kasi we are ready to partner with all your learning programs (As Congressman Roman mentioned, all the reforms are there, and we just want to convey to the DepEd that in any of those reforms where you may need, the DSWD, because you know that we have a limited financial capacity to incentivize beneficiaries, please do not hesitate to ask because we are ready to partner with all your learning programs),” he said.

Gatchalian acknowledged the support of DepEd for the successful launch of Metro Manila-wide pilot of the Tara, Basa! Program.

“So, thank you very much. This shows the whole-of-the-government approach that our President always advocates. Although education is not within our core competency, that’s DepEd’s domain, we can support your mission to eradicate illiteracy in our country,” he added.

Under the Tara, Basa! Tutoring Program, the DSWD helped 31,234 struggling and non-reader elementary learners and another 31,207 parents and guardians through reading and parenting sessions by trained college students.

The DSWD also provided cash-for-work (CFW) to some 6,101 second to fourth year college students from select state universities and colleges (SUCs) as well as local government-run universities in the National Capital Region belonging to low-income families in exchange for the services rendered.

“We wanted to reformulate our education assistance program but we needed the technical expertise of DepEd kasi alam nyo naman (because as you know), we are in the area of social welfare and development at kayo ang may core competency ng edukasyon (you have the core competency of education),” he said.

“But we wanted to make sure na yung ayuda na ibinibigay natin sa mga ga-graduate sa kolehiyo, gusto natin may condition in nation-building (that the assistance we provide to college graduates has conditions aligned with nation-building),” he added.

Gatchalian said DSWD will continue the tutoring program in Metro Manila and expand it to the neighboring regions including the province of Bulacan as well as Marawi and Taraka in Mindanao.

The agency, he added, is also conducting capacity building for local government units (LGUs) that expressed interest in launching the tutoring program in their respective areas using the template of the DSWD.

Tara, Basa! Tutoring Program is the reformatted educational assistance of the DSWD that creates an ecosystem of learning wherein college students are capacitated and deployed as tutors to teach poor and non- or struggling readers in elementary schools and as youth development workers who conduct Nanay-Tatay reading sessions. (PNA)