The idea started in 2015 when six young teachers in an EU youth project went to Manila to work for two months in three public schools in the Binondo area.

The reaction of the children, their attitude of welcoming and sharing with them all they had, their increase in motivation evoked in seeing young people coming from far away to be with them, the interest of the teachers to learn new methodologies, became strong points of the EU youth report.

Trained in sustainability the six wanted the action they had undertaken to have a follow up. Hope for these children was an investment that could not be abandoned. Both the needs and the potential became apparent.

Teachers need support to cope with the different demands to teach in challenged areas. Strengthening motivation to teach in these contexts becomes an urgency: to carry out a difficult but critical mission.

Challenging areas are present all over the world. It is there where the opportunity for a radical change can be brought about by education. Preparation for this task requires specialization. There are efforts to cope with some of the elements present in challenging contexts, but a concerted systemic one for teacher training of changing the focus from problems to opportunities, from negative perceptions to positive opportunities in a specific formation program becomes a necessity for those ready to take up the challenge.

Two years of analysis followed. This situation in the Philippines is also present in different parts of the world. A review of literature particularly of UNESCO, the Asian Development Bank, EU Reports and Government papers show the need to prepare teachers for emerging challenged areas.

It is in marginalized areas that many young people drop out from school due to the decline of motivation provoked by families who force them to find a job, lack of resources, poor quality of the educational system and teacher attrition in these schools. It is in the marginal areas that action is urgently needed to change this pattern and motivate both students and teachers. This analysis strengthened the urgency to focus on the teacher as the key element in the process, and on the marginalized areas as the most urgent settings for an answer which could serve as a model at global level.

The 2017 UN Report considered 123 countries as developing economies where these areas are the norm. Economies in transition and even the developed economies have significant areas of poverty and marginalization as well. The Philippines was selected as a pilot ground, motivated initially by the aforementioned youth project, the very large numbers of children and youth, the country’s positive attitude towards learning, the quality of many of its teacher education programs, and the use of English as the medium of instruction. FORTH, therefore, was born to answer this need, starting with the Philippines but looking ahead for its implementation in other places in the world.

FORTH aims to develop a network of Higher Education Institutions, associations and stakeholders creating a system of quality, motivation and support to teacher training in a number of emerging challenged areas in the Philippines that could serve as a model of teachers training for similar contexts in the world.

To raise motivation of the teachers and the development of quality education in these areas, the following elements will be underscored.

  1. Highlight the importance of teaching in the emerging challenged areas by:
    • Raising the quality of education and prestige of the training by developing a major in the Master program for this specific type of work. In addition, allowing teachers working in these areas to complete the MA program on a part-time basis.
    • Training the trainers to be able to train others in the field and as well as those in the preinduction programs.
    • Developing the year of practicum at the BA level in schools as learning labs with FORTH-trained staff.
    • Fostering research projects and Master Thesis on topics related to teaching in marginal areas.
    • Making the area a point of interest for international research and learning.
  2. Creating and consolidating learning communities for motivation and support by:
    • Developing learning comunities at the local level in the 15 clusters for sharing experience and backing.
    • Developing ownership of projects emerging from needs and discovering solutions from within the communities.
    • Developing learning communities at national level through national training sessions and an online platform.
    • Linking the international teams of the consortium with the Tuning groups all over the world as communities of contrast, sharing and support.
  3. Changing the narrative from one focusing on problem realities and concentrating in quality education as instrument of transformation by:
    • Emphasizing the potential of the project as pilot and model for other regions of the world and fostering the development of networks with akin goals.
    • Developing a Master program to eventually become an Erasmus Mundus and a focal point of excellence at a later date.
    • Creating a system of communicating results and analysis of data from experts from other parts of the world with the Tuning Academy and its global network among others.
This combination of measures is expected to change the situation and increase the importance of education as a transforming power in critical areas of the world effecting: