• USAID, PH government join hands to reform educational system


    The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with the Philippine government is working to restore access to education, health services and livelihood activities especially in disaster-hit areas, and provide technical assistance to the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recover, the US Embassy said in a statement on Tuesday.

    The USAID through Acting Assistant Administrator for Asia Denise Rollins formally unveiled its strategies to improve the Philippine educational system in three simultaneous conferences highlighting the agency’s increased focus on science, technology, innovation and partnerships to promote more inclusive growth.

    Speaking before an open forum at the Makati Intercontinental Hotel, the ambassador mulled changing the “pressure cooker” system of education in the Philippines by adapting the Finland educational approach.

    The Programme for International Assessment (Pisa) found that students in Singapore, South Korea and Finland outperformed others in reading, math and science.

    “In Finland, they don’t push their students to the limit. They won’t push someone to be a doctor if his or her ability can only strive for being less,” a conference participant said.

    The Philippines ranked 70th in the Pisa survey.

    To remedy this, the USAID has lined up projects such as the setting up of a Philippine Government University-Industry-Research Roundtable as well as Industry-focused careers centers and the creation of University or Industry research centers all over the country.

    Furthermore, a helpdesk, research grants and scholarship programs with exchange visits of both students and faculty of both countries were scheduled.

    The USAID also urged the participants to support the Innovation and Technology Support Offices network.

    It revealed the top three missions of the “improved partnership” between the US and the Philippines. These include the Industry Private Sector Engagement; the Science, Technology, Innovation Capacity Development; and the enhancement of Institutional Policy and Management Capacity in the country.

    ‘Yolanda’ rehabilitation
    Earlier, Rollins unveiled the USAID reconstruction and recovery activities in areas severely affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda last year including Leyte and Samar.

    According to the US Embassy in Manila, this ‘enhanced’ US government support program to help the Filipinos respond to and recover from the devastating effects of the super typhoon will cost around $142.5 million (P6.2 billion),

    Part of the program’s education component is the provision of teaching kits and funding the construction of 165 fully furnished classrooms throughout the province.

    Furthermore, the US government is introducing climate-adaptive technologies to farmers and fisherfolk, which will enable them to pursue more beneficial and sustainable livelihood opportunities.

    This will be matched by production support, farming and post-harvest equipment, and support facilities such as trading centers, boat landings, warehouses and solar dryers.

    The embassy said this will be implemented in coordination with the Department of Education to address the need for permanent school buildings in typhoon-affected areas.

    This upgraded US government support program to help the people of the Philippines respond to and recover from the devastating effects of the killer storm will cost around $142.5 million.

    Rollins also inaugurated the first two of the 1,000 sari-sari (variety) stores that will be constructed and rehabilitated by the US government and American firms, Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble.

    This is expected to help restore livelihood and help stabilize the supply and prices of basic consumer goods in typhoon-devastated communities.

    On the other hand, the construction of a US-funded $480,000 (around P21-million) school building with eight classrooms that will be undertaken in San Fernando Central School was also announced.

    “We will continue our work with our [Philippine government] partners to help the province build back better, to be more resilient to future disasters and ultimately work toward a more stable, prosperous nation that can achieve broad-based and inclusive growth,” said Rolllins.


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