Lapuz says education can prove to be most effective in achieving peace and development in areas of conflict.
The Department of Education (DepEd) on Wednesday signed a memorandum of agreement with the United States Agency for International Development (Usaid) to seal $86 million assistance to Philippine education, particularly the access to quality education in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), and the Western and Central Mindanao regions.
United States Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney, through the Usaid, inked the said agreement with Education Secretary Jesli Lapus on Wednesday for a five-year program that is expected to build 600 additional classrooms and 400 community learning centers, providing three million books, strengthen Parent Teachers Association, provide computers in high schools and train around 200,000 teachers and principals.
“While every nation has great resources, its greatest resource will be its people. That is why educating the people is very important,” Kenney said.
Filipino professionals employed around the world, according to the American envoy, is a testament of what quality education can bring.
“Filipinos are hired as teachers in the United States, and as employees in the business sectors in Hong Kong and Japan. The Philippines remains the world’s top source of the world’s workforce because of education and we take pride in being a part of the education program in the Philippines.”
The projects will also aim to provide learning opportunities and livelihood skills training for out-of-school children and youth, especially in communities most affected by conflict.
“Education is the most effective tool to achieve peace and development. It is therefore most needed in areas of conflict and poverty like Mindanao,” Lapus added.
Based on Education department records, school participation in the country have slightly increased to 85 percent in 2008 from 83 percent in 2007, and that the remaining 15 percent is the target of the department’s Alternative Learning Program.
“DepEd with its reform programs is presently enjoying unprecedented increases in multilateral and bilateral assistance. Its performance has earned for it the trust not only of the corporate world but also the donor community,” continued Lapus.
The agreement, in line with the Education for All agenda, will also provide improvements in education quality and access by strengthening teachers’ capacity in teaching English, math and science at the elementary level.
“Through our advocacy, education is now the top agenda of the national and local governments as well as other stakeholders,” the Education chief added.
To date, Usaid, with the help of DepEd ARMM, is implementing programs such as the Education Quality and Access for Learning and Livelihood Skills, US Peace Corps Tudlo Mindanao Project, and Growth for Equity in Mindanao Matching Grant for Education and Internet Connectivity for High Schools.
They also train and prepare out-of-school children and youth for livelihood skills opportunity as well as strengthen local government’s and parent-teacher and community associations’ capacity in education governance.
The agreement provides funding to the United States Peace Corps’ Tudlo Mindanao Program in which US volunteers train Mindanao teachers and civic leaders.
It will also recognize the significant contributions of the US Peace Corps in promoting education and mutual understanding between the two governments. –James Konstantin Galvez and Llanesca T. Panti Reporters, Manila Times