Australia vows P3.4-B education aid for Mindanao

The Australian government vowed to give AUS$90 million (P3.4 billion) to the Philippines for their Education Pathways to Peace in Mindanao program in some conflict-affected areas to advance peace and development. It served as a gesture for a stronger bilateral relationship of the two governments.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced on Friday during the launching of the program that the Australian government will continue to be an active partner of the country in promoting quality education as a way to improve the lives of many Filipinos, especially in areas that are affected by wars.

“The Philippines has long been a trusted and reliable partner and we have worked together in many endeavors to improve the quality of life of the Filipinos,” she said in her remark.

The Pathways program complements the long-standing cooperation with the Philippine Government on peace, stability and education reform and the Australian government is a longstanding and trusted development partner in the education sector for 15 years now.

Australia has previously supported the Basic Education Assistance to Mindanao program from 2002-2009; the Philippines Response to Indigenous Peoples’ and Muslim Education program (PRIME) in 2011-2014 and the Basic Education Assistance to Muslim Mindanao program (Beam-Armm 2012-2017).

First in Mindanao, Bishop also met the alumni and beneficiaries of Beam-Armm, including teachers trained in English, math, and science in support of national implementation of the K to 12 Program; former out-of-school youth (OSY) who are now graduates of technical and vocational training courses and some of the young students of Tahderiyyah centers.

The foreign minister cited that Australia has been the country’s largest development partner in the Philippines in the education sector where they had already assisted about 12,000 teachers and helped around 60,000 children and 11,000 out of school youth who were able to obtain an opportunity to get a job and a living.

The Australian government will be working in partnership with the Government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) over nine years to support conflict-sensitive quality basic education services in the ARMM.

This is to ensure that they can assist and teach quality in curriculum development with dash quality and policy development will boost education standards and to people as a partner for government.

The investment that will be poured by Australian government is seen to improve equity and performance in basic education by children in the ARMM to bring prosperity in the region.

“Education is very much a precondition to economic opportunities and economic opportunities are a precondition to peace,” she said.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia for his part in behalf of the Philippine government extended his gratitude for another assistance bestowed by the Australian government which is a great help in strengthening the education program of the Philippines in Southern Mindanao.

“The government of the Philippines would like to sincerely thanks the government of Australia for the continued support to the country particularly for the delivery of basic education to Muslims schools children through the Pathways program which carries forward the success of the basic educational assistance to Mindanao,” he said.