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Teaching for the next generation

Clarissa Delgado of Teach for the Philippines is ready to take on the monumental challenge of uplifting the education quality of the country

Clarissa Delgado

While Clarissa Delgado mentioned the eye-opening 2019 Programme for International Student Achievement (PISA) results of the Philippines in our correspondence, she quickly moved away from the statistics to what she believes is the heart of the matter: the people. It has always been about the people.

For over a decade, Delgado has devoted herself to social enterprise in the local education sector. She began her career in 2009 managing a Randomized Control Trial for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Poverty Action Lab on Sa Aklat Sisikat Foundation, which focused on the teaching and development of functional literacy in public elementary school classrooms around the country. From those results, Teach for the Philippines (TFP) was born, broadening the scope of work toward the twin challenges of uplifting education quality and teacher quality both in the classroom and in policy creation and implementation.

It is a monumental and noble goal, but where does one even start? 

TFP began at the core relationship in education, one between teacher and student. Beyond the larger institutional plans and policies, a knowledgeable and, just as important, encouraging teacher can already make a world of a difference for a student.

‘Within our lifetime, all Filipino children will have access to an excellent, inclusive, and relevant education.’

It is a two-way street, while the teacher is meant to guide students through a curriculum, they must also listen and better understand the students, adapt to their needs, address their weaknesses, and praise their strengths. More than just a profession, teaching can be a vocation, even a mission to educate and inspire the future of our nation. 

They currently run three core programs that create a pipeline of skilled public school teachers for the country: a two-year Fellowship program that searches, trains, and places new public school teachers; a third year extension called the Ambassador program, where former Fellowship teachers stay on to offer their services to national and local government units and offices working on education and youth policy; as well as a Public School Teacher Pathway program for licensed and tenured public school teachers.

Through her work Delgado has garnered numerous local and international accolades, including being one of the 2019 The Outstanding Women in Nation’s Service (TOWNS) awardees, part of the Inaugural 2018 class of Obama Foundation Fellows, as well as the 2016 class of Asia Society Asia 21 Young Leaders.

The signature of her work e-mails optimistically ends with TFP’s, and Delgado’s, vision for our country: “Within our lifetime, all Filipino children will have access to an excellent, inclusive, and relevant education.” 

What are the biggest obstacles you have faced in growing Teach for the Philippines?

Too many to count or to share in a single column. Perhaps the most significant challenge was my own self: The steep learning curve that I had to make and continue to have to make to this day in pursuit of giving the very best of myself to the organization and the people around me. It is a challenge and a practice to understand my own ignorance and to even, in fact, marvel in it—to use this to motivate me, to extend myself a little further, to apply myself even harder, to ask one more question (or 500), to open my mind just that extra inch more.

How did you, or do you plan to, overcome them?

I am who we are. In short, it has always been the people around me who have made all the difference. I am thankful I have never felt alone in this work.

Clarissa Delgado is the CEO of Teach for the Philippines, a nationwide for-purpose, non-stock, non-profit organization. Over the past seven years, TFP has supported more than 300 public school teachers across their core programs, reaching over 78,000 students all over the country, and this is just the beginning. If you are interested in supporting Teach for the Philippines, either by joining their program or donating to their foundation, go to

This article was first published in the February 2020 issue of the Philippine Panorama.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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