The Australian government pledged about P5.7 billion (AUS$143 million) in official development assistance (ODA) to the Philippines for fiscal year 2014-2015, reaffirming its commitment to help the country increasingly develop its infrastructure, education, investment, local governance reforms and peace-building efforts.
In a statement issued on Friday, the Australian embassy in Manila said the ODA is testament to the fact that the Australian government remains “strongly committed” to working closely with the Philippines in such areas.
“Australia places high importance on delivering results to help improve the lives of Filipinos,” David Dutton, Australian embassy charge d’affaires, said in the statement.
Focus on education
Australia’s aid program will primarily focus on improving the quality of education by supporting “the largest and most significant” reform in the Philippine education system in more than 20 years—the introduction of a kindergarten to year 12 (K to 12) education program.
Under the aid program, teacher and education managers will be trained in the new education scheme and will be advised on how to develop the curriculum.
Australia said it is particularly concerned about the education of children in Muslim Mindanao and other disadvantaged communities.
Aside from education reforms, Australia will also focus on helping the Philippines boost its economic growth through aid for trade and private sector development.
The embassy said its government supports the Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) “reform agenda” that the administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd has introduced.
Under the PPP scheme, investments in infrastructure such as classroom construction, health services and transport will be given due attention.
“Investment in these areas is critical to fostering sustainable economic growth in the Philippines,” the embassy said.
They will also be assisting the Philippines in automating its public financial management system in order to improve the efficiency and the transparency of public spending, it said.