Providing inclusive and equitable quality education for all remains a critical concern for the Philippines. Towards this end, Multigrade schools have been established to bring education closer to school-age children located in isolated, hard-to-reach, underserved, and sparsely populated communities. They can also serve to provide complete elementary education in such communities.
Rooted in SEAMEO INNOTECH’s longstanding mandate of addressing educational barriers and learning gaps in Southeast Asia, the Center has been an active partner of the Department of Education (DepEd) in ensuring progress in the implementation of the Multigrade Program in Philippine Education (MPPE). The Center has reviewed the Multigrade program, first in 1996 through a brief appraisal commissioned by UNICEF, then in 2011 through a profiling study of Multigrade schools conducted by DepEd and analyzed/ processed by SEAMEO INNOTECH.
Again in 2017, SEAMEO INNOTECH responded to DepEd’s request for MPPE evaluation by signing a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with DepEd and UNICEF to address common post-2015 educational development action agenda, identifying the Technical Support to Multigrade Program in Philippine Education (TS-MPPE) as the first project to be implemented under the tripartite cooperation.
TS-MPPE serendipitously provided an opportunity for the Center not just to keep up its tradition of providing technical assistance to DepEd’s Multigrade Education Program, but to further scale up its planned Multigrade program evaluation into a more comprehensive three-phased project, namely: Phase 1- MPPE Program Review; Phase 2- Development of M&E System and Tools; and Phase 3- Capacity Building.
Considering the unprecedented scope of methodology and samples, this study seeks to be the first systematic and comprehensive national review of DepEd’s Multigrade Education Program. It presents the overall status of MPPE implementation and the current situation and practices of Multigrade schools in the Philippines, encompassing nine policy components and eight programmatic areas.
Albeit confronting remaining challenges, in particular, improving quality of teaching and learning and accessibility to socially-excluded school-age children, this Review confirms MPPE’s viability, practicability, and positive contributions as an unconventional learning delivery in addressing access barriers to inclusion and basic learning opportunities of all school-age children and improving student learning through innovation in education delivery, curricular resources, and school-based management.
As a result of this Program Review and in partnership with DepEd’s Bureau of Learning Delivery (BLD), the Philippine Multigrade Schools Monitoring and Evaluation System (PMS-MES) was developed and a series of capacity building trainings for Multigrade Supervisors and DepEd roll outs on the use of PMS-MES were conducted.
As SEAMEO INNOTECH celebrates its 50th year of founding, we wish to reiterate the importance of the MPPE Review, which shows institutional and policy gains and more importantly, sustainability of program advancements. We re-affirm our strong commitment to addressing issues of educational access and quality through informed policies based on research as well as the importance of partnership and cooperation to ensure a brighter future for every Multigrade learner in the Philippines.