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USAID to focus on education, health programs in Philippines

/ 01:12 PM November 01, 2011

MANILA, Philippines–Citing the serious problems facing the Philippine public education and health systems, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has vowed to actively implement its “Investing in People” programs in the country.

In a report furnished the Philippine Daily Inquirer , USAID said it would continue working with the Philippine government to “increase access to quality basic education focusing on English, science and mathematics for about 300,000 students (in public schools).”

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The Washington, D.C.-based agency, which is celebrating on Nov. 3 its 50th anniversary of involvement in the Philippines, also said it would help “expand and improve opportunities for about 100,000 out-of-school youth in areas most affected by conflicts and poverty.”

“In cooperation with international and local private sector and civil society groups, USAID supports community involvement in education, improvement of instructional quality, provision of computers and educational materials, construction and repair of classrooms, technical assistance to improve policies and the mimplementation of school programs, and livelihood skills training for out-of-school youth,” it noted.

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According to USAID, “public education in the Philippines faces large-scale shortages of teachers, desks and chairs, textbooks, and audio-video materials.”

“Overcrowded classrooms are common with class sizes averaging almost 45 students. The education system is  hampered by inadequate teacher training programs and a declining per capita expenditure. Dropout rates in basic education are high, whole completion rates are low. These problems are particularly acute in the conflict-affected areas of Mindanao, where there are as many school-age children and youth who are out-of-school as those in school,” it observed.

USAID called on “greater participation of parents and communities in the education of their children through a matching grants program for school improvements and capacity-building for parents-teachers associations.”

The agency “trains parents and teachers to effectively advocate for additional school resources.”

In another report, USAID pointed out the country “suffers from high maternal mortality rate, slow decrease in infant mortality, high rate of malnutrition and one of the highest tuberculosis rates in the world. HIV prevalence remains low, but there is a spike in prevalence among the most-at-risk populations.”

“The population growth rate, estimated at 1.96 percent in 2009, remains one of the highest in Southeast Asia. At the same time, the documented gap between actual fertility  (3.3 children per mother) versus wanted fertility (2.4 children per mother) signals a significant unmet need for family planning services and commodities,” the report said.

USAID said it would seek the “enhanced capacity of local government units and the private sector to provide quality health services,” adding “all USAID activities support the Philippine government’s Universal Health Care agenda and are implemented through a bilateral agreement with the Department of Health.”

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TAGS: education, Foreign aid, Poverty, US Agency for International Development, Usaid, Youth
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