Responding to requests from public elementary school teachers, EDC and its partners distributed nearly 50,000 free copies of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary to classrooms in more than 700 elementary schools in the war-torn region of Muslim Mindanao in the Philippines. The distribution occurred on World Dictionary Day (October 16), which honors the birthday of Noah Webster, father of the American dictionary.
The event was sponsored by the EDC program known as Education Quality and Access for Learning and Livelihood Skills (EQuALLS2), and the National Book Store Foundation. Dictionaries were delivered to every classroom and community learning center that participates in the project. The initiative is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.
“Teachers believe through the use of a dictionary, students will become more interested in reading and will have a better grasp of English,” says EDC’s Yvette Tan, adding that “a good grasp of the English language will improve students’ understanding of subjects taught in English, such as science and math.”
Simultaneous celebrations of World Dictionary Day were held at elementary schools throughout Mindanao, an island region that has been home to a minority Muslim population for more than five centuries. Much of Mindanao’s history has been marked by war, poverty, inter-clan fighting, and ethnic marginalization. Nearly half of the region’s children do not attend school.
The celebrations included interscholastic spelling bees, with representatives from all schools competing. Winners received their own copies of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, and schoolwide distributions will take place throughout November.
EQuALLS2 is a public-private alliance among Filipino and U.S.-based organizations working to increase educational opportunities for local children in and out of school; strengthen the capacity for teaching English, math, and science at the elementary level; improve teacher quality; and mobilize the community in support of education. EDC is providing leadership and coordination as these organizations overhaul the education sector.
Originally published on October 20, 2009