From its implementation in 2011 until 2014, more than 107,000 children in regions across the country benefited from the Philippines Response to Indigenous and Muslim Education (PRIME) Program, which was brought about with the help of the Australian Government.
PRIME was initiated by the Department of Education (DepEd) to attend to the education needs of disadvantaged groups. Australia provided A$20 million (PHP880 million) to bring solution to the increased number of drop-outs, improve poor participation rates, and increase completion rates and national test scores.
DepEd Undersecretary for Regional Operations Rizalino Rivera says that Australia is the Philippines’ biggest partner in education.
While the PRIME Program has been completed, Australia stated that it will continue to provide support to education in the Philippines through other programs such as the ongoing BEAM (Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao) in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the new national program Basic Education Sector Transformation (BEST).
Australia and the Philippines have been long-standing partners in the development of the education sector, with Australia being a provider of support for teacher training, development of curriculum and learning materials, technical assistance on education governance and leadership programs, and strengthening capacity for evidence-based planning.
Australia also provides scholarship placement for educators to study in Australia to further update their knowledge and pedagogy.
Australia has been supporting the Philippines in its bid to transition to the K+12 program, which aims to equip graduates with a globally-recognized education and help them become more domestically and internationally competitive.
Despite this, the Australian aid only serves as a temporary solution to the country’s problems in the educational sector.
Critics say that the only long-term resolution to the issue of the education sector is to increase the government’s subsidy on state-owned schools and colleges, while applying regulation on tuition fees on private-owned schools and universities.