AUSTRALIA COMMITS A$41M TO SUPPORT PHILIPPINE BASIC EDUCATION SECTOR REFORM AGENDA
The Australian Government, through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), signed recently an administration agreement with the World Bank for a A$41 million (approximately Php 1.6 billion) grant, under the Support to Philippine Basic Education Reforms (SPHERE) Trust Fund, to support the implementation of the Department of Education’s (DepEd) basic education sector reform agenda (BESRA).
AusAID Counsellor Sam Zappia (left) and World Bank Acting Country Director Vera Songwe (right) signed the administration agreement for the Support to Philippine Basic Education Reforms (SPHERE) Trust Fund in the presence of (standing L-R) AusAID First Secretary Deo Mwesigye, World Bank Human Development Specialist Lynette Perez and DepEd Acting Asst. Secretary Jesus Lorenzo Mateo at the Australian Embassy in Manila.
AusAID Counsellor Sam Zappia and World Bank Acting Country Director Vera Songwe signed the agreement in the presence of DepEd Acting Asst. Secretary Jesus Lorenzo Mateo, World Bank Human Development Specialist Lynette Perez and AusAID First Secretary Deo Mwesigye at the Australian Embassy in Manila. The Trust Fund will be managed by the World Bank and will be implemented by the DepEd.
“Australia’s initial funding of A$41 million through the Trust Fund is anticipated to increase further in the next four years building on the progress of BESRA programs,” Mr Zappia said.
DepEd welcomed the increased support of the Australian Government to Philippine education. Mr Mateo noted that the Trust Fund will help achieve the objectives of BESRA to attain and sustain better performance in basic education of public schools and contribute to the achievement of improved quality, increased and equal access to education for all Filipinos.
Under this grant, support to DepEd will include: provision of technical assistance for strategic policy areas and building the capacity of DepEd to implement and manage change in line with BESRA reforms; strengthening the capacity of DepEd’s regional offices to undertake quality assurance functions; construction and refurbishment of Teaching and Learning Resource Centers across the country, including information and communication technology facilities to support quality assurance functions and improve teaching learning and assessment; and reproduction and dissemination of teaching and learning materials (except textbooks) and training programs.
The grant will also support school-based management programs for disadvantaged elementary schools for their school improvement plans, as well as construction of classrooms in identified priority schools in Southern Philippines under the DepEd-managed School Building Program.
These initiatives are part of Australia’s broader development assistance in the Philippines. Australia is the lead bilateral donor in basic education in the Philippines, the largest in Mindanao through the Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao (BEAM) project and currently expanding in the Visayas through the Strengthening Implementation of Basic Education in Selected Provinces of the Visayas (STRIVE) program.
Managed by AusAID, Australian aid to the Philippines in the last decade alone has totaled almost A$ 570 million. The new Australia-Philippines Development Assistance Strategy for 2007-2011, launched last June, ushered in a significant increase in Australia’s aid program amounting to more than A$100 million (Php 4 billion) for the 2007-2008 financial year, making Australia one of the top three bilateral grant aid donors to the Philippines.