Primary Education Co-Teacher

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Peace Corps domestically and internationally.

The information provided for each assignment is subject to change, including the tentative departure date.

Project Description

As one of the first education projects established in the Peace Corps, this project follows a strong tradition of professionalism and addresses the changing needs of the Philippines and its education system. The education landscape in the Philippines has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic as the Department of Education (DepEd) utilized distance education for an entire school year (2020-2021). It is expected that in the succeeding school years, DepEd will continue to utilize distance education together with face-to-face classes, which presents a unique opportunity for Volunteers to help support Filipino teachers and students as they navigate the new normal in education.

Volunteers work with Filipino teachers in the classroom to co-teach English. While Filipino teachers have a relatively high ability in teaching and English language skills, classroom teaching tends to emphasize the traditional lecture type delivery. Education Volunteers in the Philippines find their niche in supporting professional teachers in the areas of reading, student-centered approaches, hands-on activities, and development of learning resources that support the curriculum. There is an increased focus in the development of learning modules, educational videos and the utilization of technology to teach students. Volunteers also have the opportunity to participate in teacher training through school or district level capacity building activities. In these teacher training activities, Volunteers have the exciting opportunity to work in an environment of mutual learning where their creativity, innovative ideas, and people and networking skills are highly valued.

DepEd has overseen significant change in the Philippines education system in recent years. Basic education in the Philippines changed from a 10-year to a 13-year program, adding kindergarten and grades 11 and 12. Education volunteers will work with teachers, education officials, local government units, parents, and other education stakeholders in the three areas of the Education project: 1) working with teachers, 2) supporting students, and 3) engaging the community.

Supporting Students

Typical Filipino classes have 30 to 50 elementary students who come from various socio-economic backgrounds, family environments, and access to learning resources outside the classroom. Due to the different levels of exposure to English and reading, many students struggle with basic reading and comprehension. As a result, they fall behind in academic subjects that use English as a medium of instruction. In addition to co-teaching English subjects, education Volunteers in the Philippines work with teachers in developing and implementing remedial reading programs for individuals or small groups of students to raise their English reading level. Volunteers also carry out activities to develop English language skills outside the regular class time such as English clubs, journalism, and writing competitions.

Engaging the Community

Schools in the Philippines are encouraged and expected to work together with the community and the local government units. This collaborative environment provides many great opportunities for Volunteers to engage and support members of the community through different projects. Education Volunteers implement a variety of projects based on specific school needs such library development, school plays, environmental camps and initiatives, leadership training, and whole school events. Volunteers also have the opportunity to contribute to the Department of Education’s effort to ensure access to education for out-of-school youth and adult learners who, for economic and other reasons, cannot attend the regular school. The Alternative Learning System centers are usually located in the central elementary schools providing Volunteers opportunities to support the learning of out-of-school youth and adults.

COVID-19 Volunteer Activities

In the past year, the world has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a Volunteer, you will be trained in how to best protect yourself from COVID-19 exposure and understand the impact of and steps to reduce stigma related to COVID-19. You may also have the opportunity to engage with your community on implementing or enhancing COVID-19 mitigation activities, such as COVID-19 prevention and risk reduction strategies including social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing, addressing myths and misconceptions related to these practices, and vaccine hesitancy. Activities will be tailored to address the COVID-19 circumstances in the communities where you will serve.

Required Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Pre-school, Early Childhood, Middle School, or Elementary Education

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science in Psychology

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline, with Elementary Education state certification

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline, with any of the following:

o 1 or more school year classroom teaching experience at the Early Childhood, Middle School, or Elementary level;
o 1 or more year full time Montessori teaching experience;
o TEFL certification; or
o 1 or more year full time experience in reading literacy

Due to Philippines government visa requirements and the government’s current strong stance and action on combatting drug production, distribution/trafficking, and use, applicants will not be considered for Peace Corps positions in the Philippines at this time if they have ever been convicted of any crime, even if it was expunged or sealed, and even if they otherwise would meet the standards for legal clearance to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer more generally.

Desired Skills

Highly desired skills for this position include:

• At least 30 hours of English, foreign language or literacy tutoring experience with elementary, middle or high school students and/or adults

• A background in project development or project management using grassroots/community-based activities focused on community and/or youth development

• Enthusiasm and desire to co-teach in formal (classroom) and non-formal (community-based) teaching settings. Must be flexible and innovative in order to successfully teach and implement learning programs in resource-poor situations

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

Filipino (based on Tagalog) is the national language of the Philippines. Volunteers must demonstrate an intermediate level in Tagalog by week 8 of Pre-Service Training. Starting the last 2 weeks of Pre-Service Training, most Volunteers will start to learn a secondary local language associated with their assigned site. A Volunteer’s dedication to learning language will set them up for success during their service. Having this skill will help Volunteers better integrate into their community. Additional language resources to improve Volunteers’ local language skills will be offered at Peace Corps training events and through independent tutoring during service.

Living Conditions

Housing:

Housing conditions for Volunteers vary widely depending upon their community and can range from heavily urban to very rural. In underdeveloped areas, housing typically is a hollow concrete block or a mix of concrete, wood and bamboo structure. In more developed areas, housing can be either the same or built with full concrete and modern design. Most houses have running water and electricity.

Host Family Situation:

Volunteers will live for eight weeks in a training center during Pre-Service Training. Typically, Volunteers live with host families for the first four months in their permanent communities. After this period, Volunteers may choose to continue living with a host family or move into their own rented accommodations. Volunteers are strongly encouraged to continue living with host families to strengthen their language fluency and integration into the community.

Cultural Challenges:

Volunteers will encounter very different social and cultural norms that require patience, and flexibility. For example, the American sense of privacy in terms of information-sharing or physical space does not exist in many Philippine communities. Volunteers are frequently asked personal questions, e.g. one’s religion and marital status, and people will wonder why a Volunteer might want quiet moments alone.

Some American women may experience difficulties in adjusting to the limitations on women that are imposed by the culture. Views and attitudes about what is proper for girls and women can be very traditional and conservative such as being home by sunset and having a host family member or relative accompany them when going out with male friends or community members. Philippine families and co-workers automatically take great responsibility for protecting female Volunteers.

Diversity Challenges:

Volunteers of an American racial, ethnic, or national minority or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from the majority of their country of service may find they experience a high degree of curiosity or unwanted attention. This can be uncomfortable, but Volunteers are encouraged to use these moments as opportunities to deepen local community members’ understanding of U.S. diversity by sharing their values and experiences. The Peace Corps recognizes that this is challenging. Staff will address identity related concerns during Pre-Service Training. There are support networks within Peace Corps Philippines including trained staff that can advise Volunteers on cross cultural integration throughout their service.

Transportation:

There may be limitations for taking public transportation, due the COVID-19 pandemic. Volunteers will need to demonstrate added flexibility and understanding, as evolving COVID-19 mitigation policies may limit available modes of transportation. Volunteers should feel comfortable walking up to 30 minutes to reach their work site, and may be required to bike up to 6 miles a day in the heat. Typically, the most common means of transportation are jeepneys, buses and minibuses.

Climate:

The climate of the Philippines is tropical and characterized by relatively high temperatures and high humidity. Generally, the country experiences two major seasons: (1) the rainy season from June through November, and (2) the dry season from December to May.

Dress:

Philippine culture is conservative with strict norms related to appearance and dress, especially for teachers, whether they are in school or outside the school. Therefore, Volunteers must be prepared to abide by these guidelines to ensure a successful service. Volunteers with visible body piercings or tattoos will need strategies to conceal them, especially when they are teaching. Teachers are looked upon as role models in the community and are therefore expected to be neat, clean and well-groomed even in informal occasions. Men should be clean shaven and may not have visible piercing especially if they are under the Education program.

Serving in Philippines

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Philippines: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, health, and safety -- including health and crime statistics -- in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Couples Information

The Philippines welcomes and can accommodate cross-sector couples. Your partner must qualify and apply for one of the following positions:

Secondary Education Program Facilitator
Youth Development Facilitator

Volunteers serving as a couple will be living together during Pre-Service Training. As a couple, they will go to the same community for Peace Corps service after training. Peace Corps Philippines has sites available for couples who are married or in a domestic partnership. In the Philippines, there is an expectation that couples are married and there will be many questions about the marriage. (When did you get married? How many kids do you have? When will you have children? Etc.) The staff will guide the couples on how to approach living together in a community and how to respond to questions.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.


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