The Department of Education (DepEd) has initiated “Catch-Up Fridays,” a comprehensive program aimed at addressing learning gaps among grade school and high school students. Launched on January 12, the program dedicates every Friday throughout the school year to activities focused on reading, values, peace and health education.
The move comes in response to the pressing issue of “learning poverty” highlighted by the Philippines’ disappointing performance in the 2022 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). The country’s education system faced criticism from legislators, educators and opinion leaders due to the lack of competency in crucial skills, particularly the ability to read and understand age-appropriate texts.
“Catch-Up Fridays” is designed to bridge the learning gap by strengthening foundational, social and other relevant skills essential to realizing the objectives of the basic education curriculum. The initiative aligns with the MATATAG Agenda’s priorities and supports the National Learning Recovery Program (NLRP) to accelerate educational achievements.
Throughout the month of January, the program will emphasize the “Drop Everything and Read (DEAR)” activity, building on the National Reading Month activities held in November of the previous year. The DEAR sessions will be complemented by activities fostering a love for reading, including “Read-A-Thon” sessions, story-sharing by students and book fairs.
Moving forward, “Catch-Up Fridays” will extend its focus beyond reading to encompass specific targets, including values, health and peace education. However, efforts will be made to avoid overwhelming the program with too many topics, ensuring sufficient time for the cultivation of the reading habit.
DepEd Memorandum No. 001 series of 2024 designates all Fridays throughout the school year as “Catch-Up Fridays.” The program seeks not only to enhance students’ academic performance but also encourages private sector participation through book donations and volunteers serving as “book ambassadors” to read stories to students.
The initiative reflects a longstanding commitment by DepEd to promote reading. Established through a memorandum in 2011 and supported by Republic Act No. 10556 in 2012, which declared Araw ng Pagbasa (Reading Day) as a regular working holiday, the program aims to address low proficiency levels in reading based on national and international assessments.
As the country faces uncomfortable truths regarding students’ proficiency levels, “Catch-Up Fridays” represents a collective effort to foster a more literate and educated future generation. The program’s success hinges not only on DepEd’s initiatives but also on the active involvement of the private sector in supporting education and literacy.