Australian Embassy
The Philippines

Speech110407 Launch of Endeavours of Excellence

Remarks by Mr Andrew Byrne, Chargé d’Affaires a.i.
Launch of the Australia Awards 2012 Scholarships and
‘Endeavours of Excellence: 60 years of Australian Scholarship in South and Southeast Asia’
7 April 2011

• It is a great pleasure to welcome you all here tonight to celebrate the education relationship between the Philippines and Australia.

• Ambassador Smith is unfortunately out of the country but he has asked me to pass on his regret that he is unable to join us here tonight.

• Australia and the Philippines enjoy a multi-dimensional relationship as friends and neighbours in the Asia-Pacific region. It is a relationship built not just on over sixty years of formal diplomatic relations, but perhaps more importantly on the people-to-people links that go back much further.

• Education has played an important part in the relationship since the 1950’s, when significant numbers of Filipinos were beneficiaries of Colombo Plan scholarships to study in Australia.

• Today Australia is also home to a community of over 200,000 Filipinos, who make up around 1% of our population.

• Tonight we have brought together friends and guests from the education sector and from Philippine society more broadly for two purposes:

- to launch a new book recently published by the Australian Department of Education; and
- to launch our Australia Awards scholarships for 2012

Launch Endeavours of Excellence – 60 years of scholarship in South and South East Asia

• First to the book – tonight we will proudly launch a coffee table book called “Endeavours of Excellence – 60 years of Australian Scholarship in South and South East Asia”.

• This book focuses on the extraordinary story that has been, and is, Australia’s international education sector. It is a story about individuals, including several from the Philippines who are here tonight, and about their endeavours to achieve excellence in education.

• Over the past 60 years, international education has shaped Australia’s relationship with Asian countries – including the Philippines - in a unique and meaningful way. By taking in scholars and students from around the region, we Australians have learned much about our neighbours and about ourselves.

Development and Education

• I want to turn briefly to Australia’s current education assistance to the Philippines, delivered through our bilateral development program.

• The development program aims broadly to contribute to promoting economic growth, reducing poverty and enhancing national stability. Our most important tool for pursuing these objectives is education. Close to half of Australia’s total aid program in the Philippines is focused on education – both basic education and higher education through scholarships. 

• Basic education remains a key priority of Australia’s development assistance program in the Philippines

     - we contribute 2 billion pesos annually, making us the top bilateral donor in basic education in the Philippines.

• Through Australian basic education programs (e.g. Basic Education in Mindanao (BEAM), Strengthening Implementation of Visayas Education (STRIVE)) we have reached 6 million Filipino kids, improving their ability to go to school, stay in school and learn in school. 

• But Australia’s support is modest given the education needs in the Philippines. Over the past decade, the Philippine government has sought to increase spending on education but efforts have proven insufficient to meet the demands of a rapidly rising population and cost increases in the education system. 

• So much remains to be done to get Filipino children to school, keep them in school and help them perform better at school, and we’re pleased to be playing a small part in those efforts.

Higher Education: Scholarships

• Australia has also invested heavily in the tertiary sector, through scholarships for study in Australia. 

     - Since the late 1940s, over 2,000 Filipinos have been awarded scholarships to study in Australia.

• This investment reflects our strengths and the quality of an Australian education:
     - Australia has cutting-edge capabilities in the education sector and we are home to eight of the world’s 100 top universities.   

     - And I’d note here that more and more Filipino students are choosing to study in Australia.

          - Over 4,800 Filipinos were enrolled to study in Australia in 2010

• As a sign of our commitment to improving the quality of human resources in the Philippines, I am pleased to say we have increased the number of scholarships available to Filipinos to study in Australia, from around 80 per year to 120 per year.
Filipino alumni

• Many of our Filipino scholars have gone onto significant roles in academe, politics, business and the arts, shaped by their early scholarly endeavours in Australia. They have assumed leadership positions in various sectors crucial to the development of the Philippines.

• These scholars made strong connections to Australia that continue today in various fields of endeavour – people such as Fe Hildago, Roque Magno, Elmer Sayre, Pia Ramos, Rex Bernardo who are featured in the book, as well as

• Brigadier General Romero, General Bangit and Lieutenant General Rabena, and DFA Undersecretary Seguis

• We are honoured to have several of these distinguished Australian alumni with us tonight

• I’d also like to congratulate three of the 2011 Endeavour scholarships awardees who are able to be with us tonight, Luzviminda Vicencio, Giselle Pacot and Angelita Evangelista.

• While it is a great pleasure to celebrate the connections and the contributions Philippines scholars have made, it is also with some regret that we cannot feature all of them in the book, since there are just too many!

Launch of Australia Awards scholarships

• Now tonight we also formally announce the opening of the Australia Awards for 2012, with applications now open for Development Awards and Endeavour Awards scholarships.
     - At least 120 post-graduate Development Awards scholarships will be provided to high-achieving Filipinos to study in leading Australian universities in 2012. Applications are open until 31 May 2011.

• Through the targeted Development Awards we use scholarships to complement other Australian initiatives in key sectors such as basic education, social protection, climate change adaptation, and disaster risk reduction and management, among others.

• Through the Australian Leadership Awards we target future leaders and those who have the potential to assume leadership positions in their respective sectors.

 • We also ensure that scholars are supported upon return to the Philippines, particularly in applying their new skills and knowledge to help contribute to Philippine development. 

     - Endeavour Awards scholarships are also open until 30 June 2011. These are internationally competitive, merit-based scholarships available for: postgraduate study and post doctoral research; vocational courses of study; and for professional development programs in any field of study.

• Our hope is that continuing Australian investment in Filipino scholars will, over time, build a critical mass of new Filipino leaders with strong links to Australia.


• So over the many decades of our shared education experience, linkages have been formed that transcended geographic and cultural boundaries, and often transformed lives. Many of the stories in this book remind us of the power of education as an agent of change for societies and for individuals.

• The Philippines-Australia education relationship is diverse and multifaceted. The pursuit of scholarship in whatever form – Philippine students studying in Australia, Australian students coming to the Philippines, collaborative research programs, university linkages and innovative programs such as AusAID-funded projects in the southern Philippines – these define our modern education relationship.

• It is truly now a shared journey in pursuit of scholarly excellence. This new book highlights the history of that shared journey. And the 120+ Filipinos who will be awarded Australian scholarships over the coming year represent its next stage. I am certain that the legacy captured in the book, and represented here by so many distinguished Australian alumni, is in very good hands.

• Thank you.