Aussie education aid raised

By Jerry E. Esplanada
Last updated 06:01am (Mla time) 08/08/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Australian aid to the government’s basic education program will be at an “unprecedented level of more than A$170 million (about P6.6 billion)” in the next five years, according to Education Secretary Jesli Lapus.


The amount represents a 40 percent increase in Australian development aid to the Philippines, said Lapus, who is in Canberra for talks with officials of the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).


“This valuable assistance is a strong manifestation of Australia’s recognition and support for our ongoing initiatives and reforms in DepEd,” Lapus said Tuesday in a report to the Department of Education headquarters in Pasig City.


The Lapus-led mission is also “pursuing a proposed performance-based incentives financing for basic education.”


“This will be the first time the AusAID will focus performance-based allocation on a single sector that is basic education,” he noted. “There will be more funds available to support system-wide reforms called the Basic Education Sector Reform Agenda (BESRA).”


At least A$30 million (P1.2 billion) will go to integrated school-based management and teacher and materials development in Mindanao schools, among other projects.


The AusAID called BESRA a “vibrant framework which aims to put in place an education system that is able to deliver a sustainable quality education for all Filipino children.”


Cyber education


The agency also “declared that the system should provide education via whatever means most appropriate, such as cyber education and should prepare young adults for the world of work through an increased access to technical and vocational skills,” Lapus said.


“Initially, there will be A$41 million (P1.6 billion) through the trust fund to be administered by the World Bank and implemented by DepEd,” he said. “It is anticipated that funding will increase over the next four years.”


The other day, the Australian embassy said Canberra had approved a P1.6 billion (A$41 million) grant to fund a World Bank project to improve basic education in the country.


Under the grant, the support for DepEd would include technical assistance in strategic policy areas; strengthening the capacity of the DepEd’s regional offices to undertake quality assurance functions; construction and refurbishing of Teaching and Learning Resource Centers across the country, including information technology facilities and improve teaching learning and assessment, and the reproduction and dissemination of teaching and learning materials (except textbooks).


The grant would also support school-based management programs for disadvantaged elementary schools, as well as the construction of classrooms in identified priority schools in the southern Philippines under the DepEd-managed school building program.

During meetings with Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Downer and AusAID Director General Bruce Davis, Lapus confirmed the Philippine government’s “spending support to education as declared by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in her recent State of the Nation Address

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