Beijing to use facial recognition to combat illegal subletting in public housing
China Knowledge Online
Dec 28, 2018

Dec 28, 2018 (China Knowledge) - Beijing is putting in place more facial recognition-enabled smart locks in its public housing to crackdown on the practice of illegal subletting in the city.

The new facial recognition locks are expected to cover all of Beijing’s public housing projects by June 2019 and involve a total of 120,000 tenants. The use of these locks will not only cut down illegal subletting but also improve security in these public housing areas.

The use of facial recognition locks is the latest in a series of facial recognition technology Chinese authorities plan to introduce to improve law enforcement in the country. A number of cities in China have already implemented facial recognition cameras to catch jaywalkers.

Currently, the facial recognition locks have already been installed in 47 public housing projects with 100,000 facial scans of tenants and their family member already having been collected. In addition, this system can also help estate management to better look out for elderly residents who are living alone by sending an alert if the senior resident has not left home for an extended period of time.

Beijing has been ramping up its efforts to crackdown on illegal subletting to ensure these housing resources are only allocated to those who genuinely need it. The average monthly rental for a flat in Beijing is about RMB 5,000 while for public housing, it can be under RMB 2,000 monthly.

Those caught engaging in illegal subletting will be barred from low-income housing for 5 years.

Company China Knowledge Online
Contact Editor
Telephone +65 6235 8468
Relationships - The Lifeblood of Business
JMAMONI Lifestyle & Etiquette Institute Pte. Ltd.
Nov 29, 2018

As a Lifestyle and Etiquette Consultant, I meet people of all natures from all over the globe.

Whether in Business, Diplomacy, any Social Settings or Youth, life has taught me one thing: Building relationships with people will lead you to success, in private and in business. You will connect with people more deeply and meaningfully, you will manage your future engagements with people much more successfully and you will eventually experience decreased miscommunication. Now tell me, who doesn’t want that?

Relationships are the lifeblood of business. Without building relationships with people, you’re not going to do well in business. Building that capability takes time. Yes, it’s not easy and it doesn’t come naturally for everyone, but it’s a skill and you can learn it. I’ve had to work at it and so do you. Etiquette, People Skills, Soft Skills or whatever you call it, is a lifelong process.

To be successful, there’s one skill that’s incredibly basic and yet so underrepresented in our modern community, our disruptive world – The Art of Conversation. EVERYTHING starts with a conversation, especially if you want to build a relationship. It is a deciding factor in our life, for our business, as a leader, as a friend, as a partner, as a relative and even as a stranger. Conversation is a foundational skill of us Homo Sapiens and it affects literally every area of our lives. It is a process, which requires time, like any learning to be “a better” in anything. The more you practice, the more rewards you gain in your future engagements.

The most frequent questions I’ve been asked in my workshops are:

1. How do I become a better conversationalist?
2. How do I become the STAR of the team?
3. How can I relate better to people?
4. How do I apply all these wonderful values of human mind into my networking, meetings…?

As you can see, it’s all about relationship management. We’ve learnt to focus on our self-improvement in the pursuit of knowledge, experience, intelligence, education and we have forgotten that we have no full understanding of how our communication affects several areas of our life. We
forgot to focus on developing the skills in tapping the most precious resource – The People. Your interpersonal relationships can make or break you.

I can tell you one thing, I have had success with these tips and so can you too:

1. Keep notes about people you meet
2. Listen actively
3. Ask open-ended questions in order to get meaningful information
4. Admit when you don’t know something and let others educate you without fear of embarrassment or intimidation
5. Keep the conversation back and forth (like playing tennis)
6. Let the conversation take its course (level of communication)
7. Offer favor, it’s powerful
8. Always be genuine and kind without pretension
9. Recognize that you can’t please everyone
10. Set some boundaries and be solution-minded before getting sucked into negativity

When you do cultivate these principles which I call your own presence, you draw attention and admiration from others. Not only will people want to develop relationship with you, they may also will want to socialize with you, do business with you and in some instances maybe marry you, you never know when opportunity knocks at the door, it happens. Of course, this presence has to be practiced as part of your essence until it’s internalized and emanated from within. That’s where others are drawn to you, some talk about charisma, because you exude humble, self-confidence, optimism. You have something special to offer, you are contagious.

In Business, Relationship Matters!

Company JMAMONI Lifestyle & Etiquette Institute Pte. Ltd.
Contact Juliana Mamoni
Telephone +65 833 279 23
AFEO Confers Distinguished Honorary Patron Award on Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad
Nov 16, 2018

SINGAPORE --( ASIA TODAY )-- The ASEAN Federation of Engineering Organisations (AFEO) today honoured Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia with the AFEO Distinguished Honorary Patron award, for his substantial and outstanding services and contribution to the engineering profession, AFEO and the ASEAN community.

The AFEO Distinguished Honorary Patron Award is the most prestigious and highest AFEO award that may only be conferred upon a reigning head of state and head of government of acknowledged eminence and high standing. Only one individual is picked by the 10 AFEO member organisations to receive this honour each year.

Prof Yeoh Lean Weng, Chairman of AFEO and President of The Institution of Engineers, Singapore (IES) presented the award to Dr Mahathir at a conferment ceremony at the Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore. Also in attendance were Dato’ Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, Minister of Economic Affairs, Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Dato’ Zainol Rahim Zainuddin, High Commissioner of Malaysia to Singapore. IES is currently hosting the 36th Conference of the ASEAN Federation of Engineering Organisations (CAFEO 36) at Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore.

Nomination of Tun Dr Mahathir was the unanimous decision of AFEO Governing Board that comprises the Heads of AFEO member organisations. The Governing Board recognised Tun Dr Mahathir’s significant contributions to the engineering community in Malaysia and ASEAN.

Dr Mahathir is the fifth recipient of this prestigious accolade. Previous recipients of the AFEO Distinguished Honorary Patron award are:

· His Excellency Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia
· His Excellency Bapak DR. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Former President of the Republic of Indonesia
· His Excellency U Thein Sein, Former President of Myanmar
· His Excellency TYT Tun Dato‘ Seri Utama Haji Abdul Raman bin Haji, the Head of the State of Penang

– END –

About ASEAN Federation of Engineering Organisations (AFEO)
The ASEAN Federation of Engineering Organisations (AFEO), a non–governmental organisation affiliated to the ASEAN Secretariat, is represented by national engineering organisations in the ASEAN region. The objectives of AFEO are the promotion of goodwill, understanding, cooperation and exchange of ideas and experience in the fields of education, science, engineering, technology, environment, human resource, training and registration of professional engineers as well as to establish and develop an ASEAN baseline standard for the engineering profession with the aim to facilitate the mobility of the engineers within the ASEAN countries.

About The Institution of Engineers, Singapore (IES)
The Institution of Engineers, Singapore (IES) was formally established in July 1966 as the national society of engineers in Singapore. IES is the premier engineering institution in Singapore and is called upon by the Government to provide feedback on professional engineering matters.

IES is well represented among the faculty members of the major engineering institutions of higher learning in Singapore. Through close collaboration with the local universities and polytechnics, IES organises courses, seminars and talks for engineers and IES members to advance the continuous development of engineers.

The Institution maintains close links with professional organisations of engineers regionally and throughout the world. These include organisations in Australia, China, Japan, United Kingdom and the United States. The Institution also represents Singapore in the ASEAN Federation of Engineering Organizations (AFEO) and the Federation of Engineering Institutions of Asia and the Pacific (FEIAP) in promoting goodwill and fellowship among all engineers in ASEAN and the Asia-Pacific region.

Through its Engineering Accreditation Board (EAB), IES obtained full signatory status in the Washington Accord (WA) in June 2006. The entry grants IES the authority to represent Singapore, the first country within the ASEAN region which has obtained full signatory status in the WA, to vet education systems under the WA mutual recognition framework.

– END –


Desmond Teo
Publications Manager
The Institution of Engineers, Singapore
DID : (65) 6461 1229
Email :

- ASIA TODAY News Global Distribution

NKF #AMBILSERIUS About Promoting Organ Donation
Oct 22, 2018

Kuala Lumpur, October 2018 – In conjunction with Minggu Kesedaran Pendermaan Organ (MKPO) Peringkat Kebangsaan 2018, the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) of Malaysia had initiated a unique approach to promote organ donation with mobile cruisers. The NKF team distributed flyers containing organ donation statistics and information about organ donation along with green pens to drive awareness and commitment for organ donation between 17-21 October.

“Almost 25,000 patients are currently on the waiting list for organ transplant in Malaysia; however only 1.3% per million population of Malaysian has registered as organ donor pledgers. Through this effort, we strive to create awareness of the struggle of those with kidney disease that are hoping for transplants as well as to encourage the public to recognize the life-saving significance of organ donation,” said Chua Hong Wee, Chief Executive Officer of NKF.

The mobile cruiser team went around Klang Valley areas including Subang Jaya, Petaling Jaya, Shah Alam, Kelana Jaya, Damansara and Kuala Lumpur, targeting public places such as universities and shopping malls in order to spread the message to members of the public of all ages. There were also fun and informative activities such as live interviews with the public so as to understand Malaysians’ perspectives and knowledge towards organ donation in the country. Interactive games with free gifts, as well as special appearance of the movie character mascots brought cheers to the visitors. The campaign hashtag is #ambilserius.

“NKF continuously strives to create awareness on kidney disease – from preventive measures to providing assistance to the underprivileged suffering from the disease. On 27 and 28 October 2018, NKF Malaysia will also be hosting the 15th Annual Dialysis Meeting 2018 which is a patient-centred approach to dialysis care towards a better quality of life for dialysis patients in Malaysia,” Chua added.

To find out more about National Kidney Foundation and 15th Annual Dialysis Meeting event on 27 & 28 October 2018, log on to the organisation’s website at


National Kidney Foundation of Malaysia
The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) Malaysia is a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to helping Malaysians suffering from end stage kidney failure who lack access to or cannot afford dialysis treatment. NKF currently has over 1,600 dialysis patients receiving subsidized dialysis treatment in over 28 dialysis centers nationwide.

GO Communications Sdn Bhd
Celine Lau / Justin Ooi
Tel : 603 7710 3288 / Fax : 603 7710 3289
Email : /

- ASIA TODAY News Global Distribution

Singapore Cracks Down On "Shoe Box"-Sized Apartments
Investvine, A Company of Inside Investor, Ltd.
Oct 18, 2018

Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on October 18 announced an upcoming regulatory change for the city state’s property developers, mandating that the average size of new private flats outside the central area will have to be at least 85 square meters in average of gross floor area, up from previously 70 square meters, a far cry from some shoe box-sized apartments having been built and sold in the past.

The new guidelines, which will come into effect by January 17, 2019, are therefore cutting the number of possible units allowed in a project – something that developers say might increase prices of condos and make it difficult for low-income earners, retirees or singles to afford one. However, the URA argued that the move was made to manage potential strains on local infrastructure and ensure the livability of residential estates.

The authority further announced that nine areas in Singapore – up from presently four – will be subject to an even more stringent minimum average requirement of 100 square meters, namely Marine Parade, Joo Chiat-Mountbatten, Balestier, Telok Kurau-Jalan Eunos, Stevens-Chancery, Pasir Panjang, Kovan-How Sun, Shelford and Loyang.

Real estate agents said that the new limits will reduce the number of units in a development by up to 30 per cent, curbing developers’ ability to prop up profit margins by launching smaller units as the number of shoe box units entering the market will naturally come down in the longer term.

As a result, major property stocks, including City Developments, CapitaLand and Ho Bee Land, fell sharply on the news. Analysts said that developer stocks are likely to remain under pressure and could even “test new trough levels” which could mean a near-term downside of up to ten per cent.

They also estimate there could also be a 20 to 40 per cent drop in land prices with the revised unit size rules, as home buyers are likely to hold back purchases to 2019 to wait and see what impact the regulation will have an condo bidding prices.

Company Investvine, A Company of Inside Investor, Ltd.
Contact Imran Saddique
The Upper House Creates Vocational Experiences for Hong Kong Down Syndrome Association Members
Oct 18, 2018

Singapore, 18 October 2018 --( ASIA TODAY )-- As part of Swire Properties’ SD 2030 vision, an initiative to reinforce the company’s commitment to sustainable development, The Upper House has partnered with
The Hong Kong Down Syndrome Association (HKDSA) to provide vocational experiences for its members and to equip them with skills to integrate into society.

10 members from the Association joined the programme which included 18-hours of training, followed by a 2-month attachment with the Guest Experience, Restaurant & Bar, Housekeeping and Kitchen departments. 14 representatives from The Upper House formed a dedicated committee to provide guidance for the members, mentoring them through the back of House operation and guest engagement.

To celebrate the completion of the programme, a graduation ceremony was held in September 2018 with the members, families, friends, and teams of The Upper House and the Association. The occasion was filled with fun performances, experience sharing and awarding of certificates. “As a hotel, we always want to be an inclusive workplace,” said Marcel Thoma, General Manager of The Upper House. “Whilst we offer the participants vocational experiences, they also share their experiences, as well as their bright and positive outlook on life. We all learnt from each other tremendously. It was a fantastic partnership and we look forward to continuing our work with HKDSA.”

The Upper House is delighted to announce the success of the initiative, with two of the members gaining long-term employment. The partnership with HKDSA will continue to be one of the House’s many CSR commitments, with new programmes to be announced in 2019. “It is my mission to identify partners who could offer our members opportunities to live fulfilling lives and relieve some of the daily burdens placed upon family members and caregivers,” said Victoria Tang-Owen, President of the Association and friend of the House. “The programme led by The Upper House has been a wonderful example of how organisations can collaborate to offer vocational training and work opportunities, have a lot of fun in the process and deepen community ties. We are truly grateful to the Swire Hotels team for their professional commitment to our cause.”

Highlights from the partnership can be viewed on the Swire Hotels YouTube channel.

@UpperHouse_HKG #HongKongDownSyndromeAssociation #HKDSA #TheUpperHouse #TheHouseCollective #SwireHotels

- ENDS -

For images, interviews and more information, please contact:

Lynda Williams
+65 8111 0290
Caroline Pitt
+65 92739011

About Swire Hotels and Swire Restaurants
Swire Hotels has been created to manage soulfully individual hotels in Hong Kong, Mainland China and the USA, providing a characterful experience for well-travelled individually minded travellers who seek originality, style and personalised service. We create distinctive hotels with a sense of place that break with convention.

The company’s first hotel, The Opposite House in Beijing, opened in 2008 and was followed by The Upper House, Hong Kong, and then by EAST, Hong Kong, EAST, Beijing, The Temple House, Chengdu and EAST, Miami. The Middle House in Shanghai, our latest addition, opened in April 2018.

A restaurant division was set up in 2013 to manage the company’s stand-alone restaurant operations. Our first restaurant Plat du Jour opened in November 2013 followed by Public and Ground Public in Quarry Bay. The Continental in Pacific Place opened in October 2014 and Mr & Mrs Fox in 2015, follow by the second Plat du Jour opened in Pacific Place in 2016. Our latest addition, Republic, a sub-brand of Public opened in Taikoo Place in December 2017.

About Hong Kong Down Syndrome Association
Registered as a non-profit-making organization in October 1987, the Hong Kong Down Syndrome Association is committed to serving individuals with Down syndrome, the disabled, people with intellectual disabilities and their family members with integrated family support and vocational rehabilitation services. Our objective is to enable the service users to develop their personal growth fully and in every aspect of life, as well as to meet their employment and vocational training needs.

- ASIA TODAY News Global Distribution

Mentee/Mentor Relationship-Experience
JMAMONI Lifestyle & Etiquette Institute Pte. Ltd.
Oct 09, 2018

My Mentorship Experience

I have been often asked to share my mentorship experiences with Educational Institutions around the world. Especially during the past two years, I have had the good fortune to mentor several NUS (National University of Singapore) students (in Faculties such as Architect/Design, Law, Medicine and Scientists) through a series of face-to-face conversation and emails and each mentorship experience was completely different. I personally see the mentee/mentor relationship as growing together.

After being matched with a mentee, the first step, namely to meet in personal, is the most crucial one. Why? First of all, it’s important to show up which isn't the easiest step especially when dealing with millennials or the work-loaded last year undergraduates and secondly, get to know each other in order to discuss topics with immediate feedbacks that allow your conversation to have a more personal and relaxed feeling in order to gain trust.

We all face challenges as we go through our education and training. We question our decisions and look for direction from the examples of our predecessors. There is a point in time when we gain the ability to reflect on these experiences and begin to provide others with advice. This experience reminded me that mentoring offers positive outcomes for all participants in the conversation; in this case, not just for my mentees, but for me as well.

Personally, I think our collective knowledge is a strength and our experiences can lead the next generation of professionals

The act of discussing these experiences with a mentee gave me a new sense of affirmation as I recognized my mentees were facing some of the same feelings of insecurities I had experienced at that age, which by the way, many of us do forget! As we continued, our conversation developed into more of a shared reflection rather than a one-sided, mentor-to-mentee monologue. Conversation should be like a tennis match where the ball keeps coming back in different ways and shapes. This way, you can balance the power in the relationship you're trying to build.

A challenge is the expectations of holding time lines. If the mentor and student do not have an open conversation about timelines, unfortunately there will be a potential for a conflict of expectations. We all struggle nowadays with the timing of events in our lives, and as a student it sometimes seems as if your time is constantly lost to a schedule created by other people. The discussion of this time management topic releases a huge burden of guilt on the students.

Personally, I think together, mentor and mentee do make an active step in a positive direction toward their future successes.

My final reflection after years of mentorship experience is that mentoring is a continuum: the more people join any kind of mentorship programme, the stronger all our voices become.

About the Author

Juliana Mamoni, ‘mompreneur’, Founder and Director of the Lifestyle & Etiquette Institute, is a globally recognised Lifestyle expert, known by many as "The Life Guru". She is a BA graduate in Economics with a further degree in Hotel Management (Berlin), a diploma in Men's Fashion Design (Milan), coached by an assistant to the acclaimed late designer Gianni Versace. Juliana is a member of the International School of Protocol and Diplomacy (ISPD Brussels) and Protocol And Diplomacy International - Protocol Officers Association (PDI-POA Boston/USA).

She holds workshops and instructional meetings addressing Business, Social, Youth Etiquette and also Protocol & Soft Diplomacy. Her aim is simple: to help people make healthier, more socially appropriate choices, resulting in happier, more rewarding and successful lives (professionally and personally).

Juliana is also Author of "Contemporary Business Etiquette for Success at Work", "10 Power Soft Skills for Success at Work", "Help Your Child Shine - Youth Etiquette & Character Education Ages 5-17"

Company JMAMONI Lifestyle & Etiquette Institute Pte. Ltd.
Contact Juliana Mamoni
Telephone +65 833 279 23
Powerful Counter-Trafficking Campaign from Asia Gets a Global Stage
Oct 02, 2018

Eye-catching videos and resources reach audiences around the world

“Now I know things about safety and rights. I’ve also learned how important it is to keep documents safe, not to be confiscated by the employer.”

September 2018 — “Што такое гандаль людзьмі?” (“What is human trafficking?”) says the narrator as an animated video on human trafficking plays to a crowded room of students in Minsk, Belarus. This same video plays in Egypt, Myanmar and Thailand, however, the narrator isn’t speaking Belarusian. She’s speaking Arabic, Myanmar and Thai.

Originally developed to prevent human trafficking and exploitation in 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, USAID’s IOM X (link is external) campaign materials are now being used in over 40 countries across the world. Some 140 videos and an equal number of other resources — such as training materials, online courses, and factsheets — are available in 18 languages.

“IOM X creates content that our audience is receptive to. Having new, high-quality and engaging content on hand makes our demanding jobs so much easier, especially since we are a non-profit looking to maximize resources,” said New Su Shern, founder and president of the Malaysia-based NGO Project Liber8.

The campaign produces tailored content, such as videos and factsheets, on sector-specific issues related to the prevention of human trafficking, ranging from domestic work to manufacturing. For example, the definitions video series provides one-minute overviews of different forms of exploitation, including forced begging, organ trafficking and debt bondage. These videos are easy for other organizations to adapt to local audiences through subtitling or dubbing. They are also highly digestible, shareable and easy for all types of audiences to understand.

Much of the content is aimed at influencing young people from ages 15 to 35 to make migration decisions that protect them from exploitation.

“Now I know things about safety and rights. I’ve also learned how important it is to keep documents safe, not to be confiscated by the employer,” said a Burmese migrant worker in Yangon after watching the Make Migration Work video series.

Audiences across the region are not only fans of the content, but they are also fans of the innovative approach used to create content. A robust library of research and training materials is publicly accessible, and reversioning — translation to another language — is encouraged. For example, the Communication for Development (C4D) toolkit is now available in eight languages, including Mandarin, Bangla and Khmer.

The project’s technical team has held workshops in eight countries, training more than 500 partners on human trafficking and C4D. Campaign materials have reached a potential 505 million people globally since the campaign began in late 2014.


Young Girl in Rural Philippines Braves the Sea to Read and Learn
Oct 02, 2018

Engaging lessons and storybooks spark children’s love of reading
“We want a better future for our daughters. They have better opportunities if they are educated.”

August 2018 — Crisha, 7, lives on a remote islet called Silagon in the Philippines’ central region of Cebu. Electricity, fresh water and produce are scarce and expensive for the 300 people who live there. Families must frequently visit the main island of Bantayan — about 40 minutes away by boat — to get basic necessities.

Helping to steer the boat with a bamboo pole, Crisha and her friends make this trip each day to attend school. Twice, the girls fell overboard when they lost their balance while prying their pole free from rocks. During low tide, they wade in ankle-deep water.

Despite these challenging circumstances, the girls go to school every day.

“I don’t want to be absent because I don’t want to miss our lessons,” says Crisha, who is currently in third grade.

Every day that Crisha crosses the sea to get to school, she is taking a step toward her dream of becoming a teacher. Crisha’s parents admire their daughter’s drive and ambition. Her mother, Amy*, did not finish high school and her father only completed four years of primary education.

“We want a better future for our daughters,” says Amy. “They have better opportunities if they are educated.”

Hermida Alota was Crisha’s teacher in second grade. “Crisha was eager to learn. She became even more interested when I made my lessons more fun through storytelling and interactive activities.”

Alota credits the change in her teaching practices to USAID’s Basa Pilipinas (Read Philippines) project. She was among the teachers whom USAID, in partnership with the Philippine Department of Education, trained to boost literacy among early grade learners. From 2013 to 2018, the project provided nearly 10.5 million copies of teacher guides, storybooks and other education aids to 3,000 public elementary schools, including the school where Alota teaches.

“Because I have all the tools I need as a teacher, I can focus on engaging my students more meaningfully in class,” she says.

Alota lends books to her students to read at home. These materials keep Crisha occupied on rainy days when it is too dangerous to take the boat to school.

By training over 19,000 teachers and school administrators and providing teaching and learning materials to schools, USAID has helped unlock the potential of over 1.8 million students from kindergarten to third grade. The Department of Education has since adopted the learning materials and will distribute them throughout the Philippines.

For Crisha, these measures have sparked an even greater interest to come to school and learn.

“She enjoys school more than ever. When she comes home, she tells us everything that she did in class. After dinner, she reads her books to us,” says her mother.

*Full name withheld to protect identity.


Young Learners in the Philippines Discover the Joy of Reading
Oct 02, 2018

Teachers learn techniques to boost student literacy

“Seeing my students develop into readers brings me so much joy.”

August 2018 — John, 7, lives in Ubay, Bohol — a small town in the central region of the Philippines. He runs his finger through the pages of a book, sounding out words about a small hut and vegetable garden.

Last year, John could not read the alphabet. Worried that he might have a learning disability, John’s mother, Chesa*, nearly pulled him out of first grade to retake kindergarten. But John’s teacher, Ruffa Maboloc, persuaded Chesa to let John stay in her class because he was clearly committed to learn.

“He chose books from our reading corner and looked at the pictures,” said Mabaloc, noting his interest in books.

Aside from John, five other students in the class struggled to read. To better address their learning needs, Mabaloc grouped them together during class reading time. While her more advanced students read on their own, she helped John and his classmates sound out letters individually to form words.

Maboloc learned these techniques as part of her literacy training from USAID’s early grade reading project, Basa Pilipinas (Read Philippines). From 2013 to 2018, USAID partnered with the Philippine Department of Education to support the country’s goal of improving the reading skills of early grade students. Implemented by Education Development Center, the Basa project trained school administrators and teachers like Mabaloc to effectively improve students’ literacy. The project also produced learning materials for classrooms.

“For years, I relied on memorization and drills. Most of my students did not progress in their reading and continue to struggle in the higher grades,” said Mabaloc, adding that this teaching style is typical in Philippine classrooms.

Through USAID’s Basa project, Maboloc learned new ways to help her students master the sound of each letter of the alphabet. From that, she built upon their ability to read out loud, expanded their vocabulary, and strengthened comprehension skills using children’s books.

She established a reading corner with USAID-provided books. Students began choosing colorful storybooks with varying degrees of difficulty. The books are written in Filipino and Sinugbuanong Binisaya, the mother tongue languages of students in her classroom. Studies show that mastering basic literacy in a child’s mother tongue helps them transition to more advanced learning in mainstream languages.

“The reading corner is a big hit! I change the books every couple of weeks so that the students have new material to explore,” says Maboloc. This nurtures their love of reading.

John is now in the second grade. He can read, write, speak and comprehend in Filipino and Sinugbuanong Binisaya. “Learning to read has given him more confidence,” says his mother.

USAID’s Basa Pilipinas project, which ran from 2013 to 2018, strengthened the reading skills of more than 1.8 million students from kindergarten to the third grade, trained over 19,000 teachers and school administrators, and provided nearly 10.5 million copies of teacher guides, storybooks and other education aids to 3,000 public elementary schools in the Philippines.

“Seeing my students develop into readers brings me so much joy,” said Maboloc.

*Full name withheld to protect identity.