Clarissa Delgado

Redesigning teacher training to address the reality of students’ poverty and helping public school teachers become community leaders

The Problem:

The Philippine public education system is ill-equipped to deal with widespread student poverty and its consequences on learning outcomes by itself. As a result, only 13 in 100 Filipino students who enter first grade will complete their education. On a policy level, progress is hampered by the legacy of a complicated colonial past and an ever-changing political climate, hindering the fresh ideas and alignment needed to understand the system’s root problems and make long-term change for communities.

The Approach:

Teach for the Philippines is founded on the practice of critical theory and built on the shoulders of Sa Aklat Sisikat, a Filipino reading program started in 1999. In 2012, after more than a decade of listening to public school communities across the country’s 7,641 islands, the co-founders of Sa Aklat Sisikat developed Teach for the Philippines to better address the broader twin problems of improving educational outcomes for 26 million Filipino children and diversifying political voices in the Philippines.

Teach for the Philippines manages three programs. The organization recruits, trains, and licenses non-education majors and education majors not yet recognized by the system, giving them an opportunity to teach in public schools. The organization also recruits and trains existing public school teachers, recognizing and building from the assets that already exist within the system. Teach for the Philippines’ teacher development curriculum has been measured to improve student learning outcomes. The curriculum is successful because it starts where the communities are: addressing poverty as a key traumatic and dehumanizing experience that hinders learning and effective teaching, thus equipping teachers to work with students and their families through best practices in trauma awareness and emotional first-aid, psychosocial support, positive self-esteem, and improved student-teacher relationships.

Finally, to bridge its work to the system, Teach for the Philippines offers those who complete the two-year leadership program an extended one-year position assisting local and national government offices, thereby transforming a teacher’s experience with community change into experience in policy—and enriching government decision-making with new voices and greater community alignment. Over 40% of Teach for the Philippines alumni have entered the public sector.

My civic hero:

My grandmother and my grandfather