MANILA, Philippines—The Australian government is increasing its aid to the Philippines this year to pour greater funding into basic services, education reform, public-private partnerships and community-based programs on climate change and conflict, according to Australia’s aid agency.
Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Bill Tweddell said in a statement that Australia’s total official development aid to the Philippines for the fiscal year 2013-2014 is at P5.7 billion (A$141 million), a P480 million (A$12 million) increase from the 2012-2013 allocation.
The amount aims to help the Philippines overcome poverty through targeted assistance “to help improve the lives of the poorest Filipinos,” the envoy said.
“Australia remains strongly committed to helping the Philippines to overcome poverty, as demonstrated by the increase in funding of Australian $12 million from last year,” said Tweddell in a statement.
“Australia’s aid program in the Philippines is focused on strengthening basic services for the poor and reducing vulnerabilities arising from climate change and conflict,” the envoy said.
Annual funding is expected to steadily increase with the Australian government aiming to raise its aid commitment to 0.5 percent of its gross national income, the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAid) said.
Among Australia’s aid priorities in the Philippines are programs for disaster preparedness and resilience, with the country’s vulnerability to natural calamities.
“With our Philippine partners, Australia will work to make Filipinos safer and more resilient to the threats of natural calamities and the changing climate, which drive people into poverty and threaten sustainable economic development,” Tweddell said.
AusAid will also continue to support the Kindergarten to Year 12 (K to 12) education reform program currently implemented in phases to improve the quality of Filipino high school graduates.
The flagship reform program adds two years to the current 10-year basic education cycle to unclutter the curriculum and give more time for students to learn, preparing them for either work upon high school graduation or further studies in college.
“Australian assistance will train teachers and decision-makers provide advice on curriculum development and help develop information technology systems,” Tweddell said.
Australia is also keen on supporting the Philippines’ public-private partnership program, seen to increase investments in health services, transportation and infrastructure development. The Australian government is also helping the country’s automation of its public financial management system for more efficient and transparent public spending.—Tarra Quismundo and Tina G. Santos