AUSTRALIA COMMITTED TO IMPROVING BASIC EDUCATION IN THE PHILIPPINES
Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Rod Smith, in his recent visit to learning centres assisted by the Philippines-Australia Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao (BEAM) project in Davao City, reaffirmed Australia’s commitment to improve access to and quality of basic education in the Philippines.
“Education is one of the major focus areas of Australia’s aid program in the Philippines. Australia’s support is focused on improving access of Filipino boys and girls to quality education, providing better teaching and learning in Mindanao and the Visayas, and supporting national basic education reforms,” Mr Smith said.
The ambassador visited Santa Ana Elementary School and the Institute for Indigenous Peoples Education (IIPE), both of which are supported by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) through BEAM. He was joined by Peter Jensen, AusAID Counsellor and Dr Ian D’Arcy Walsh, BEAM Australian Project Director.
BEAM, a Php1.5 billion (A$39.2 million) initiative being implemented since 2002, has introduced new approaches to school-based management, Muslim education and access for indigenous people. Through BEAM, over 35 000 children, parents and out of school youths from 174 remote and disadvantaged communities across Regions XI, XII and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao are now actively participating in the formal and non-formal education system through the access program.
In Santa Ana Central Elementary School, Mr Smith observed the implementation of the Arabic Language and Islamic Values Education (ALIVE) classes. ALIVE is a groundbreaking initiative of the BEAM project where the Arabic Language and Muslim education is integrated in public elementary schools with a significant number of Muslim students.
At the IIPE Centre the ambassador met with children and tribal leaders from the various indigenous groups – Bagobo and Matigsalog – in Region XI. He also read a story about Australia to the very enthusiastic IP children.
“The different IP communities that BEAM is assisting have their own unique knowledge, systems and practices. For learning to be fully appreciated and achieve maximum impact, BEAM and DepEd have developed a culturally-relevant and holistic curriculum and learning materials for indigenous children,” he explained.
Department of Education (DepEd) Region XI Director and Philippine Project Manager for BEAM Susana Teresa Estigoy said that BEAM’s work has led to a very significant impact in teaching and learning processes inside the classroom. “It is very encouraging to us that so many of the things we are doing in Region XI are being picked up by DepEd Central Office for national implementation,” she said.
Both ALIVE and the IP education curriculum have been recognised and accepted by DepEd as part of their strategy for national adoption and roll out.
Australian support to basic education includes direct technical assistance to support reforms at the national level as well as targeted support in service delivery and in piloting models in southern Philippines.
Australia will provide about Php1.2 billion (approx A$32 million) in 2008-09 to support improvements in Muslim education and DepEd’s implementation of the Basic Education Sector Reform Agenda or BESRA.
The Australian Government has increased its official development assistance to the Philippines to Php 4.4 billion (A$109.3 million) for fiscal year 2008-09, an increase of nearly nine per cent over the previous year.