Australian Embassy
The Philippines

MR140221b - Australia announces A$150M funding assistance for education

Australia announces A$150M funding assistance for education
21 February 2014

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop today announced new funding assistance from the Australian Government to the Philippines’ Department of Education (DepEd), totalling A$150 million or PhP 6 billion over the next six years to finance a high-impact education program.

Ms Bishop made the announcement during the launching of the Basic Education Sector Transformation (BEST) program, the new Australian-Philippine education initiative.

The BEST program supports the Aquino administration’s ambitious “K to 12” reform agenda, and will benefit more than eight million students in nearly 19,000 public schools.

“Australia and the Philippines are good friends and neighbours. The BEST program is a continuation of our commitment to partner with the Philippines to promote prosperity, reduce poverty and enhance stability,” Minister Bishop said during the launching ceremonies at the Neptali Gonzales High School in Mandaluyong City, attended by Education Secretary Armin Luistro and other high-level education and local officials.

Ms Bishop said the new program is a continuation of the 50-year education partnership between Australia and the Philippines. Australia is the largest bilateral grant donor to the Philippines in education.

Ms Bishop commended the Department of Education, led by Secretary Luistro, for its work to secure the future of Filipino children. She noted that investing in education is essential to ensuring a skilled and competitive workforce, capable of boosting labour productivity and furthering economic growth.

The program’s major aim is to assist the Philippines through the DepEd in improving teaching and learning quality and access to education as well as to strengthen systems.

It will be implemented at the national level but have a focus in six regions initially - the National Capital Region, Bicol Region, Northern Mindanao, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, and Eastern Visayas. The last three regions were affected by the Bohol earthquake and typhoon Yolanda.

The “K to 12” reforms supported by BEST will also play a role in influencing changes in tertiary curricula that will allow Philippine universities to be internationally competitive in attracting students from Australia under the New Colombo Plan, a signature initiative of the new Australian Government that will commence in the Philippines in 2015.

If the BEST program is successfully implemented, more children will be able to demonstrate improved mastery of the basic education curriculum competencies, especially in English, mathematics and science.