Australian Embassy
The Philippines

SP140424 - Australia Future Unlimited - Education Partnership Forum 2014

Speech by Ambassador Bill Tweddell
Australia Future Unlimited - Education Partnership Forum 2014
Isabela Ballroom, Makati Shangri La Hotel
24 April 2014

Distinguished speakers and guests, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. On behalf of the Australian Embassy in Manila, welcome to the Australia Future Unlimited – Education Partnership Forum 2014.

The Education Partnership Forum is an annual event aimed at identifying key issues relevant to Philippine education and how an Australian partnership can help address these issues. The Australian delegation composed of 11 universities and vocational education and training providers, are here today gain key insights on Philippine education, and discuss potential partnerships with you. Today’s forum comes at a critical time, when the full implementation of the ASEAN Qualifications Framework or AQRF and, more broadly, ASEAN Integration, is only 9 months away.

We welcome and fully support the major reforms in education that the Philippine government and ASEAN in general have made in the last few years. Reforms such as the AQRF, the Philippine Qualifications Framework, Outcomes Based Education and K to 12 can only lead to a more competitive economy. This is especially important as Philippine GDP grew by 7.2 % last year, which makes it the fastest growing economy in the region. In order to make this growth both sustainable and inclusive, human capital investments in the form of enhancing the education system is key.

Australia shares your commitment to education.

For the Australian government’s bilateral relations with the Philippines, education is one of the cornerstones of our work, and the flagship focus of our aid program. In recent years, Australia has also become the destination of choice for Filipino students seeking to study overseas. For the period 2012-13, more than 5,000 students traveled to Australia for their studies.

And lastly, we are pleased to inform you of a major initiative designed to enhance cooperation in education between Australia and the region – the New Colombo Plan. Launched in February this year, the New Colombo Plan is a signature initiative of the Australian Government. It aims to lift knowledge of the Asia Pacific in Australia and strengthen people-to-people and institutional relationships, through study and internships undertaken by Australian undergraduate students in the region. We will have the Philippines as one of the partner countries in the next few years, beginning in 2015, and this is an excellent time for you to explore partnerships with Australian universities along this line. We understand that we have much to learn from our friends and neighbors such as the Philippines.

In closing, I encourage you to actively engage with the Australian providers here to today and start discussions on potential partnership opportunities. The Australian Embassy through the Australian Trade Commission will be glad to assist you in your endeavors. Thank you and good afternoon.