It is the second year of Project FORTH, an Erasmus plus capacity building project in Higher Education co-funded by the European Commission on “Formation of Teachers in Emerging Challenged Areas of the Philippines” (FORTH). On March 19-22, its third Transnational Training of Trainers was held online with five universities in the Philippines, fifteen public schools from four main islands of the archipelago and three universities from Europe. These are the University of Groningen (Netherlands) coordinating the project, the University of Bologna (Italy) and the University of Deusto (Spain). Partners as well are professional associations and NGOs with advocacies in education and social concerns including the Teresian Association International Inc from the Philippines, InteRed from Spain and EDIW Education for an Interdependent World from Brussels. EDIW spearheaded the design, its writing and its current implementation in the country. To be noted is the partnership with the Commission of Higher Education (CHED) and the Department of Education as Associate partner.
FORTH passed from scrutiny to recognition by the academic institutions and government ministries regulating the viability and academic rigor of its trainings and the proposal for a new major Teaching in Challenged Areas in the existing MA in Education. Approved for implementation this March of 2021, it is the first major of this type in Teacher Education in the Philippines and perhaps in other parts of the world. Following the Tuning methodology of collaborative approach among partners, FORTH pulled from the expertise of the academe and the wisdom and experience of teachers in the field the competencies needed by teachers in challenged areas. From these competences the curriculum of the new major was anchored.
Project FORTH was conceived for the purpose of changing the narrative of a situation that is almost always seen from the point of view of a chronic problem to one of opportunity for social transformation in areas where the attention for “the least, the lost and the last” is most urgent.
A quantitative research conducted by the project on the likelihood of developing careers choosing this path show a very high positive response from more than 800 respondents, specifically from the group of young teachers in their first to five years of teaching in challenged areas and those preparing to be teachers. Likewise, in an initial survey of teachers asking for their collaboration to be part of action research on good practices in these contexts, more than 490 responses indicated they would be willing to participate. These findings leave us with a challenge to enkindle this idealism of our young and future teachers, in the words of EDIW Team Project Designers, “to develop a network of HE Institutions, associations and stakeholders to create a system of quality, motivation and support to the training of teachers to work in emerging challenged areas in the Philippines as a model of teacher training for other marginal areas in the world.”
Intended to be a pilot project with the capacity to be replicated in similar contexts in any part of the world, Forth is ready to open the possibilities of a joint Erasmus Master’s program in the near future.
Below are videos of some sessions of this TTT3.