SIL Philippines

Literacy & Education

Literacy continues to be a part of the work of SIL internationally and in the Philippines. SIL is involved in literacy activities which touch the lives of adults, young people and children.

Although the Philippines has a basic literacy rate of more than 88.5%, pockets of illiteracy remain. According to the Department of Education, there are more than 1 million pre-literates in the country and more than 6 million people are deemed to be functionally illiterate. Many of these are found among the indigenous cultural communities where SIL works in association with the Philippines Department of Education.

Some of these communities have no written tradition for their languages. In those instances, linguistic research can be the starting point for development of an appropriate orthography for the language. The goal is to produce an alphabet that is easy to read and write, so that students can transfer their literacy skills in the vernacular into other Philippine languages that they learn. SIL endeavors to serve these communities through a learner-centered, “bottom-up” approach which keeps the power of decision – ownership of the process and the product – in the hands of the community. We desire that, from the beginning, learner success and enjoyment will build a foundation for continuing education, benefitting the individual, the community and the nation.

  • MALEI (Matigsalug Literacy Education Incorporated) oversees the on-going development of literacy and education among the Matigsalug Manobo of Davao del Norte and Bukidnon. SIL members helped facilitate the formation of this people's organization. MALEI aims to include community education as part of their on-going programs for out-of-school youth and adults. Typically, this would include sessions on topics such as budgeting, leadership training and agricultural matters.

  • Under the umbrella of OMALRACDI (Obo Manobo Active Language Resource and Community Development Inc.), various activities take place in partnership with SIL. These include the promotion of literacy through equipping Manobos to become literacy teachers and supervisors. To date, more than eight Literacy Teacher Institutes have been held in Manobo communities, taught by Manobos. OMALRACDI also facilitates health care education programs through primary health care classes taught by a Manobo midwife.

  • The Tagakaulo Kalagan in Sarangani Province and Davao del Sur work in association with the Department of Education Bureaus of Elementary Education and Alternative Learning Systems. Beginning in the barangay of Lutay, an area which formerly had neither formal schools for children nor non-formal classes for adults, a program for children has begun where basic reading and writing lesson materials are constructed first in the mother tongue of the students, and then bridging into Filipino and English. SIL members are very active in this area and the program is spreading to a number of other Tagakaulo speaking areas.


See also:

Mother Tongue-based Multilingual Education