Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Australia to extend education program in ARMM

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Executive Secretary Naguib Sinarimbo (left) swears into office lawyer Dr Hamid Barra as new secretary of the Department of Education in the autonomous region in simple rites in Cotabato City on Monday, February 1, 2010 as Shariah Judge Aboali Cali, lawyer Engineer Udtog Tago and a ranking official of the DepEd-ARMM look on. ARMM Governor Ansaruddin Adiong appointed Barra last week before the new secretary was elected by the National Ulama Council of the Philippines to steer various vital education programs in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi provinces and the cities of Marawi and Lamitan which form part of the ARMM. (Photo by Ali Macabalang)

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 2, 2010) – Australia is likely to extend its support and finance a critical education program in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Filipino officials said on Tuesday.

Officials said the Australian Agency for International Development pledged to extend up to ten years its Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao which would focus only to the depressed communities in the impoverished region which comprises the province of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur.

The Australian project is expected to reach some US$33-million, according to ARMM Executive Secretary Naguib Sinarimbo, who said that lawyer Hamid Barra, who was earlier appointed by acting ARMM Governor Ansaruddin Adiong as regional secretary of the Department of Education, will be playing a main role in the extended BEAM projects.

Sinarimbo said the extended BEAM program seeks to intensify the AusAID intervention in addressing the high dropouts, elementary undergraduates, classrooms shortage, and inappropriate teachers’ instructional skills in the Muslim autonomous region.

He said the proposed education program extension covers only the elementary level. For the high school education which also needs improvements, Sinarimbo said they will have to conduct a study and present proposals to other aid donors.

The BEAM Project ended in Muslim autonomous region ended last year after completing an eight-year mission of helping public schools in reach and maintains higher standards of basic education.

“It is pleasing to note that much have been achieved in the ARMM areas covered by the BEAM project with a 24 percent improvement in elementary education and 15 percent in the secondary level,” said Ian D’Arcy Walsh, BEAM project director, during a farewell dinner in November hosted by the Department of Education in Cotabato City.

The Philippine News Agency said Australia’s basic education program covers 18 provinces in central and southern Philippines and is focused on improving access to quality education, providing better teaching and learning in Mindanao and the Visayas, and supporting national basic education reforms.

It said as a lead grant donor in basic education, Canberra has been assisting the Philippines in meeting a lagging Millennium Development Goal indicator which is to achieve universal primary education by 2015.

BEAM has been instrumental in providing tested innovations to the Department of Education which largely influenced the Basic Education Sector Reform Agenda in standards setting, educational planning, learning outcomes management, financial management, educational administration and management, and monitoring and evaluation.

The government media said with BEAM's support, over 5,000 schools are now implementing school-based management, and about 53,000 teachers have received training to strengthen their teaching skills and improve learning outcomes for children.

To improve the quality of Islamic instruction, including mainstream public schools, Australia also helped train about 2,000 Muslim teachers and supported 30 Islamic schools to enable them to become accredited operator of private schools implementing the Standard Madrasah curriculum. (Mark Navales and Ali Macabalang and the Philippine News Agency contributed to this report)

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