Australian Embassy
The Philippines

MR110706 Australia, Philippines commit to improve education for Filipino indigenous and Muslim school children


More Filipino Indigenous and Muslim school children will now benefit from better access to a quality education through a new partnership between Australia and the Philippines.

Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Rod Smith and Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Brother Armin Luistro today launched the Philippines’ Response to Indigenous Peoples and Muslim Education (PRIME) Program; a DepEd initiative to help address the learning needs of indigenous and Muslim school children.

“As a response to our commitment to make education universal and inclusive, DepEd has been extending efforts to cross the boundaries on culture, tradition and religion. While this PRIME project is a big boost to the Education For All goal of the department, it is, more importantly, the government’s way of responding to the needs of Indigenous Peoples and Muslim communities for relevant and responsive basic education, one that removes barriers to meaningful participation in society and empowers learners to exercise their rights and duties as Filipino citizens,” Secretary Luistro expressed.

“Australia is pleased to be a founding partner of PRIME, providing Php880 million (A$20 million) from 2011 to 2014. We applaud the Philippine Government’s efforts to address the particular needs of indigenous and Muslim learners – many of whom are among some of the most disadvantaged of Filipino children in terms of their access to a quality basic education,” Ambassador Smith said.

Through PRIME, Australia will assist DepEd develop learning materials, train teachers and adapt the curriculum to make teaching and learning culturally sensitive and relevant to indigenous and Muslim school children.

“PRIME further strengthens our large and long-standing partnership with the Philippines in the education sector. Over half of Australia’s aid budget to the Philippines goes to education, and we are ready to support the DepED as it scales up support for Muslim and indigenous students,” Ambassador Smith said.

“In behalf of the education department and the entire Philippine government, we thank the Australian government for helping us reach another milestone in the Philippine public education system as we encourage maximum participation of all learners despite religious affiliation, ethnic group or disability. Empowerment and reduction of vulnerabilities for the said groups will be a very important component of PRIME in ensuring that the education needs of this sector are met by curriculum and pedagogical enhancements,” Secretary Luistro responded.

Luistro furthered that the very idea of inclusive education that PRIME offers will lessen justifications for non-attendance especially because schools can now provide for the learning needs of indigenous and Muslim learners, identified as belonging to groups that are either unserved or underserved in the Philippines basic education sector.

Since 2002, Australian assistance has helped increase access to and quality of education for some six million children in the Visayas and Mindanao. Australia works with DepEd to strengthen education policies and systems, train teachers, and introduce new learning and teaching strategies. Australian projects have provided Filipino children with over 200 community learning centres, access to alternative learning programs, and an improved curriculum - including for indigenous and Muslim students and remote and disadvantaged communities.