Speech by Ambassador Bill Tweddell
Ceremonial Handover Event
CCI-School Building Program for Basic Education (SBP4BE)
4 June 2014
San Isidro Elementary School, Magalang, Pampanga
Brother Armin Luistro, FSC - Secretary of Education
Education partners, Ladies and Gentlemen
Mayap a gat panapun.
I am very pleased to be here today for the ceremonial handover of eight classrooms to your school. We in the Australian Embassy hope that the children who just started school last Monday will benefit from a more conducive learning environment that these classrooms offer.
Australia and the Philippines are long term partners in education. Both our countries believe that a better educated society will lead to better informed citizenry supportive of democratic institutions, and give a better chance for its citizens to participate actively in trade and economic growth within the Asia-Pacific region.
We work in close partnership with DepED to get children into school, make sure they stay in school, and are provided with systems that support continuous learning.
Our support to your school is part of Australia’s broader commitment to build more than 5,000 classrooms by 2017 through our various aid projects, including through the Classroom Construction Initiative through which these classrooms have been delivered. Since 2011, we have partnered with DepED National and ARMM, the Department of Social Welfare and Development and non-government organisations to deliver more than 1,500 classrooms benefitting approximately 67,000 learners.
While this represents a small percentage of classrooms in proportion to the total requirements of the Philippines, we are working with DepED to improve standards and business processes including in procurement, construction and financial management. This will help ensure that any investment in classrooms (whether funded from national or local government budget or funded by other partners), the learners get the best quality classrooms at competitive costs.
Through the Classroom Construction Initiative, we are also working with the school principals, local government officials and community members in supervising and monitor construction projects in their schools and hold contractors to account for delivering good quality classrooms.
Our commitment to help improve the Philippine basic education is stronger than ever with the Australian Foreign Minister’s announcement in Manila in February of our new education program, the Basic Education Sector Transformation or BEST. BEST is a A$150 million program over six years that directly supports the Philippines’ implementation of the Enhanced Basic Education Program or K-12. K-12 has far-reaching consequences for the Philippines. Students graduating from Senior High School would be better prepared for tertiary education and would be more competitive when seeking employment domestically and within the region. This will significantly contribute to economic development in the Philippines. It is for this reason that when DepED sought our help, we were eager to come on board.
Through BEST, Australia will continue to work with DepED on teacher training, development of the curriculum and learning materials, technical support on education governance and leadership programs to further strengthen capacity for evidence based planning. We will also continue to provide scholarship places for educators to study in Australia to further update their knowledge and pedagogy.
On behalf of the Australian Government, let me reiterate our continuing support to education in the Philippines. We are here for the long haul. Thank you and good day to all.