By James Konstantin Galvez and
Llanesca T. Panti Reporters
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
“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
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
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
“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,”
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
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.