“Letters to VP Sara,” an initiative that places children’s voices to address the learning crisis
The UN General Assembly proclaimed 24 January as International Day of Education, a day to celebrate the crucial role of education for peace and development.
Manila, 24 January 2023 – On the occasion of International Day of Education, UNICEF unveiled “Letters to VP Sara,” an initiative that places children’s voices at the core of efforts to address the learning crisis. UNICEF Philippines Representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov presented the letters to Vice President and Secretary of Education Sara Duterte containing wishes of learners all over the Philippines.
“Children should have a say in matters that affect them. We hope that adults will continue to consult children on how they can learn better. As we tackle learning challenges, let’s empower children to participate meaningfully in their schools and communities,” said UNICEF Philippines Representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov.
The UN General Assembly proclaimed 24 January as International Day of Education, a day to celebrate the crucial role of education for peace and development. This year’s theme, “To invest in people, prioritize education,” builds on the global momentum spurred by the UN Transforming Education Summit (TES) participated in by the Philippines, where education stakeholders committed to act boldly and ambitiously in transforming the education system to deliver inclusive, equitable, and continuous quality education instrumental in breaking the cycle of poverty that keeps millions of children behind.
Today, 244 million children and youth globally are out of school. In the Philippines, 2.6 million Filipinos aged 6 to 19 were not attending school in 2020. There is a crisis in foundational learning, as well as an alarming decline in the literacy and numeracy skills among young learners. Many schools in the Philippines lack facilities and human resources to help children with their lessons. Vulnerable children such as those living in poverty, those living in isolated, disaster-prone, and conflict areas, children with disabilities and children belonging to indigenous communities fare far worse.
For this year’s commemoration, UNICEF asked learners all over the Philippines to write letters on what they need to be able to enjoy their full rights to education. Learners’ needs were diverse, such as better peace and order situation in their localities for uninterrupted learning, facilities for LGBTQ+ students, learning program for children with disabilities, and school development projects in their communities. Some also shared their dreams and career aspirations.
Viah from Bagumbayan Central School in Legazpi City thanked the Secretary for taking care of teachers, saying that “happy teachers will make them efficient, effective and dedicated teachers.”
“My dream is to have more rooms and more teachers. We only have two teachers because other teachers are afraid to come here. I hope we will have peace and order so that we can continue to go to school,” Aisha from Lebbuh Primary School in Lamitan, Basilan says.
“It will greatly help if we have bond papers, art materials, printers and good internet connection so we can easily print our work sheets and test papers,” Choleen from Oranbo Elementary School in Pasig City said.
“My wish is for us to have food. I hope I can also have uniforms,” Matuy Balenton, a child belonging to the Aeta tribe studying in Dinalupihan, Bataan said.
Alhadz from Naungan Primary School in Tawi-Tawi lives far from the town and gets to school by riding a boat. “My only wish is for us to have a big boat that we can use even if it is windy and the waves are strong, so that we can get to school safely.”
Education authorities are tackling education challenges through its Basic Education Development Plan 2030. This January, DepEd is presenting the Basic Education Report (BER) 2023 and the Education Agenda.
UNICEF has been a long-standing education partner, advocating for children’s right to education in the Philippines for over 75 years. To help children recover learning after COVID-19 and other emergencies, UNICEF provides technical and material support, supports vulnerable children such as children with disabilities, helps local governments with learning recovery plans, and repairs schools damaged by typhoons.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in the Philippines, visit www.unicef.ph.