DepEd & Australia to continue programs for disadvantaged communities
Education partnership program benefitted more than 100,000 children in indigenous and Muslim communities in the Philippines
From 2011 to 2014, more than 107,000 children in 10 regions that have had the lowest educational indicators, benefitted from the Philippines Response to Indigenous and Muslim Education (PRIME) Program, which was made possible through assistance from the Australian Government.
PRIME was implemented by the Department of Education (DepED) to address the education needs of disadvantaged groups. Australia provided A$20 million (PHP880 million) to address high drop-out rates, improve poor participation rates, and increase completion rates and national test scores.
"Australia is our biggest partner in education. Through PRIME, we were able to provide inclusive and culture-based education for our indigenous learners. We were able to reach out to our schools in far-flung areas and engage different communities by addressing education needs through an inclusive approach," DepEd Undersecretary for Regional Operations Rizalino Rivera.
Though the PRIME Program has been completed, Australia said that it will continue to provide support to education in the Philippines through various other programs, such as the ongoing BEAM Program in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the new national program, Basic Education Sector Transformation (BEST), which was announced by Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop during her visit to the Philippines last February.
PRIME built on the successes of the Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao (BEAM) Program's earlier implementation in 2002-2011. PRIME scaled up the BEAM innovations on Muslim and IP education programs in more communities.
PRIME has been instrumental not only in keeping more and more disadvantaged children in school and improving their learning rates, but also in keeping local and indigenous cultures alive and becoming integral parts of the school curriculum.
"I have had the privilege of visiting communities supported by PRIME and it was heartening to hear from parents and community elders how PRIME is helping them keep their indigenous cultures alive. PRIME had also helped in removing barriers and enabled parents to send their kids to school in a happy and safe learning environment. This is what PRIME is all about: Philippines and Australia's partnership to help indigenous and Muslim learners have better access to good quality education," said Layton Pike, Chargé d'Affaires of the Australian Embassy, during the Ceremonial Closing Event for PRIME at the DepEd Central Office in Pasig City last 23 June.
"Australia is here for the long haul. Our commitment does not end with PRIME. Through BEST, we aim to continue our partnership with DepED to support better education outcomes in the Philippines that is inclusive and relevant. We believe that our investment in the education of Filipino children will have far reaching effects and will lead to a prosperous Philippines, where citizens can better participate in the local economy and in the region," Pike added.
Australia and the Philippines have been long-term partners in the development of the education sector, with Australia providing support for teacher training, development of curriculum and learning materials, technical assistance on education governance and leadership programs, and strengthening capacity for evidence-based planning. Australia also provides scholarship placement for educators to study in Australia to further update their knowledge and pedagogy.
The new Australian-Philippine education initiative, BEST, has a funding assistance totalling A$150 million (PHP6 billion) for the next five years to finance a high-impact program.
Australia has been supporting the Philippines in its bid to transition to the Kindergarten-to-Grade-12 (K-12) system, which would equip graduates with a globally-recognized education to help them be more competitive domestically and internationally, as well as better prepare them for a world-class tertiary education.
(Photos, courtesy of DepEd will be available at 18:00H 23 June 2014)