Project FORTH Erasmus+ Launches in Bacolod City: Empowering Teachers in the Emerging Challenged Areas Through Teacher Formation

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In an unprecedented effort to forge a network of higher education institutions, associations and stakeholders and create a system of quality, motivation and support to teacher training and empowerment, the much-anticipated Project FORTH Erasmus+ has been officially launched in Bacolod City on February 19, 2019 at Balay Kalinungan, University of St. La Salle. This pioneering initiative promises to bring together the diverse perspectives and experiences of educators and stakeholders from the different participating higher education institutions in the Philippines, partner universities and international organizations in Europe, and associate partners towards the goal of bringing quality education to emerging challenged areas in the Philippines.


Project FORTH: Formation of Teachers for Emerging Challenged Areas in the Philippines

Project FORTH, which stands for "Formation of Teachers for Emerging Challenged Areas in the Philippines," is a project co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union that has a mission of reforming higher education degree programs particularly teacher education to make it relevant for the learner by enhancing employability, civic, social and cultural engagement.

Project FORTH aims to address the reality of education in low-socioeconomic-stability environments, where there are extremely particular requirements and contexts for both students and teachers. FORTH focuses in especially on how teachers' low self-esteem and motivation lead to absenteeism and attrition. It addresses this issue with a number of cooperative measures, such as highlighting the relevance of this mission for the eradication of poverty through education, emphasizing the significance of this task in developing new curricula, turning it into a master's degree, and finally into an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree while making it accessible to people already in the area on a part-time basis and those who make it a choice and a vocation to go to these areas. 

The Philippines was chosen as a pilot location, initially spurred on by the sheer number of children and youth, the nation's promising attitude towards education, the potential of many of its teacher education programs, and the country's use of English as the primary language of instruction. In order to meet this requirement, FORTH was created and has now been launched in the Philippines.


Building Lasting Partnerships and Embracing the Erasmus+ Spirit

Project FORTH launching is just the beginning of a long and hopefully fruitful journey. The aim is to establish lasting partnerships between Philippine and European partner universities and stakeholders from participating organizations. These connections will open doors for future collaborations, research, and innovations. The Erasmus+ program has a proven track record of fostering international understanding and cooperation among institutions worldwide. Project FORTH fully embraces this spirit, aiming to create a network of seasoned educators who are equipped to address global challenges collectively.

Five Philippine strong and complementary universities compose the participating higher education institutions in the country. These are: Polytechnic University of the Philippines - PUP (Manila), Centro Escolar University - CEU (Manila), University of Southeastern Philippines - USeP (Davao), West Visayas State University - WVSU (Iloilo), and the University of Saint La Salle - USLS(Bacolod City). 

Three European universities leading  in educational reform represent the European partners. These are: University of Groningen (UG) in Groningen, the Netherlands, and International Tuning Academy - Project Coordinator; University of Deusto (UD) in Bilbao, Spain; and International Tuning Academy University of Bologna (UniBo) in Bologna, Italy. There are two international organizations in Europe that are part of this collaboration:  Education for an Interdependent World (EDIW) in Brussels, Belgium, a forerunner in the reform in Higher Education in Europe, which serves as Project Co-coordinator; and  Fundación Intered in Madrid, Spain.

Other significant partners in the Philippines include: the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Philippine Association for Teachers and Educators (PAFTE), Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization -  Regional Center for Educational Innovation and Technology (SEAMEO-INNOTECH), and the Teresian Association International, Inc. (TAII). The Department of Education (DepEd) Divisions of Manila, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Iloilo, Davao comprise the associate partners in the Philippines.


Quotes from Key Stakeholders

Dr. Robert Wagenaar, Project FORTH Lead Coordinator and Director of the Tuning Academy of the University of Groningen:  "Project FORTH is a testament to the power of education in bringing people together. We are thrilled to launch this initiative in Bacolod City, where the warmth and hospitality of the community will undoubtedly enhance the cross-cultural experience for all participants."

Brother Joaquin Severino Martinez, FSC, President and Chancellor of the University of Saint La Salle stated that USLS and the La Salle Brothers are proud to support Project FORTH and its mission of bringing quality education in the challenged areas and teacher empowerment, as it resonates the Lasallian mission of educating the last, the least and the lost.  He added that he is looking forward to witnessing the positive impact this initiative will have on the lives of the participants and the communities involved.