PH schools to get P6B from Australia
MANILA, Philippines – It's one of the countries most trusted by Filipinos, a recent survey showed. On Thursday, February 20, Australia moved to grow its influence all the more.
Visiting the Philippines, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced a P6.08-billion (AU$150 million) donation for Philippine schools.
Bishop said her country will give the Philippines this amount in a span of 6 years.
Under the Basic Education Sector Transformation (BEST) program, Australia will help the Philippines build new classrooms, train teachers, and run its K to 12 program, which adds two years to the country's basic education system. (READ: INFOGRAPHIC: 10 things about K to 12)
Bishop said the P6-billion donation will help the Philippines “see better educational outcomes for young people in this country, that they will be able to reach their potential and take part in the formal labor force, take part in the economic growth and success of this country.” (Watch more in the video below)
Australia's donation is nearly 2% of the Philippines' P309.43-billion budget for education in 2014.
Bishop announced this funding in a joint media briefing with her Philippine counterpart, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, as part of her Philippine visit.
Australia's top diplomat flew to Manila to attend the Philippines-Australia Ministerial Meeting from February 20 to 21, and to mark the 40th anniversary of relations between Australia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Australia wants scholars in PH
In the media briefing Thursday, Bishop also said Australia wants to send scholars to the Philippines by 2015.
She said her country plans to do this under the New Colombo Plan, a scholarship program.
The New Colombo Plan, Bishop said in an earlier statement, “will give undergraduate students an opportunity to study at universities in our region and undertake work placements and internships.”
On Thursday, Bishop said this program will allow students to “come back to Australia and bring new insights and new ideas, hopefully language skills, and not only add to the productivity and prosperity of our country, but set up connections and networks that will last a lifetime.”
“In this way, Australia would truly engage in the region,” she said. (Watch more in the video below)
Last February 12, Bishop announced the first batch of scholars under the New Colombo Plan – 300 undergraduates from 24 Australian universities to be sent to Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Japan.
“I expressed very great hope that the Philippines would be one of our partner countries in the New Colombo Plan in 2015 so that young Australians would have the opportunity to live and study here in the Philippines, and form the kind of enduring friendships that have underpinned our relationship for so many decades,” Bishop told Filipino reporters.
7th 'subtle superpower'
Her country enjoys a good reputation among Filipinos, according to a recent survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS).
In its 4th quarter Social Weather Report for 2013, the SWS ranked Australia second among 6 countries included in the survey.
It got a net trust rating of +53, trailing the United States that had +82.
It's also one of the most powerful countries when it comes to soft power, according to Monocle, a global foreign affairs magazine, and the UK-based Institute for Government.
In 2013, Monocle and the Institute for Government ranked Australia 7th among the world's “subtle superpowers.”
This level of trust comes as Australia focuses on Asia, which has attracted other developed countries such as the United States. (READ: Australia's foreign, defense policies after the polls: Howard 2.0?) – Rappler.com