TAGUM CITY -- The Philippines still have much to do in catching up with other countries when it comes to literary, a coordinator of the Education Network Philippines (ENP) said.

ENP national coordinator Cecilia Soriano revealed that the Philippines currently rank with countries like Cambodia and Myanmar when it comes to functional literacy.

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“In 1950s, we ranked second to Japan,” she said during her guesting with other judges of the 2010 National Literacy Awards in Kapihan sa Kapitolyo at the Provincial Media Center of Davao del Norte.

While noting that Filipinos are aspiring to go above ranks of other third world countries, Soriano threw the challenge to do more and move forward programs on literacy.

Soriano bared the country’s overall literacy rate was placed at 98 percent in 2008 from 94 in 2003 and that the functional literacy level showed improvement from 84.1 percent in 2003 to 87 percent in 2008.

“Still, so much needs to be done,” she said.

The national government has been into goals of improving the literacy status of the country, especially now that it has committed to help achieve a global goal of reducing adult illiteracy by 50 percent in 2015.

To help the National Government achieve the goal, the Department of Education and Culture and the Literacy Coordinating Council (LCC) are networking with all sectors, government agencies, non-government organizations, LGUs, among others to “promote literacy and disseminate the importance of literacy to national progress.”

To recognize efforts of cooperating sectors, especially LGUs, the Literacy Coordinating Council launched the National Literacy Awards in 1994. After it was held in abeyance in 2006 to 2007, NLA resumed in 2008.

Judges of 2010 National Literacy Awards are visiting these year’s contenders for Outstanding Local Government Award, Component City category of which Tagum City of Davao del Norte has landed as one of the five finalists.

Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Program Management, Creative and Production Services Director Emilyn Libunao who chairs the 2010 NLA board of judges said local government units (LGUs) play a crucial part of institutionalizing literacy programs.

She said LGUs are expected to integrate literacy programs in their development agenda.

While NLA is recognizing other stakeholders, it is giving importance to LGUs which develop and implement literacy programs and projects in their respective communities.

NLA seeks to sustain, expand and institutionalize literacy efforts by motivating and recognizing individuals, institutions and LGUs through awards and appropriate recognition.

It aims to encourage the development and replication of innovative, creative and indigenous literacy programs, and contribute to the realization of the goal to universalize literacy in the Philippines by creating public awareness of and interest in programs and projects addressing illiteracy. (LCC/PIA/Jean D. Abangan)