$85M Australian Education Grant to Solidify Peace in Mindanao

DepEd Secretary Br. Armin A. Luistro FSC; ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman; AusAID Assistant Director General Rod Brazier; and DepEd ARMM Secretary Jamar Kulayan.

The benefits of the peace agreement between the government and the Moro International Liberation Front have started to materialize with the Australian grant of Aus$85 million aimed at solidifying the gains of peace through investments in education.

Education Secretary Br. Armin A. Luistro FSC said the Basic Education Assistance for Muslim Mindanao (BEAM) bankrolled by Australia is a giant leap towards a steady and continuous improvement in the quality of basic education in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“The success of this endeavor will mean much not only to the children of ARMM but to all Filipinos. We have started a spark, it is a spark that should reach every community, every household, every child in Muslim Mindanao. This spark will become a real beam of hope to Muslims and to all Filipinos.” said Luistro.

In line with President Aquino’s marching orders, BEAM resources will be utilized to boost programs in kindergarten education and upgrade the reading program for young learners.

The grant that is the single largest donation given to a region, will also fund further improvement in the Madaris education, strengthen technical vocational programs for out-of-school youths, build more classrooms and open more schools in the ARMM.

“This project will benefit the last, the lost and the least in the most isolated barangays in the ARMM,” Luistro added.

BEAM will cover five provinces and two cities. Specifically, the program targets 95% of ARMM public schools, benefiting 2,347 public elementary and secondary schools, 50 private madaris, 2,382 Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) recipient barangays, 300 barangays without public elementary schools, and 20,000 out-of-school youths (OSYs).

DepEd ARMM Secretary Jamar Kulayan said: “As we launch the BEAM program, let us not forget to whom this program is intended. Ensuring school children are able to access education services suited to their circumstances is the heart of education reform in ARMM. The future is not tomorrow, the future is already here inside the classroom”.

For his part, Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) Assistant Director General Rod Brazier explained that BEAM is built on partnerships which is central to the program’s success and believes that education is key to enduring prosperity. “Our aim is to provide a capable education system that contributes to peace and stability for a brighter future for the children of Mindanao. As a good neighbor, we want to help and you can count on us to do so for as long as it takes,” he added.

Meanwhile, ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman stressed that if the DepEd ARMM problems are addressed, half of ARMM problems are solved. “We want to say to our donor and government partners that you can bank on our commitment and action. Yes we can, yes we will. This is our commitment.”Hataman said.

BEAM was launched in Cotabato City last November 20. The event was attended by representatives from AUSAid and partners from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), BRAC (Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) and German Technical Cooperation (GTZ). As a gesture of support to the program and the ARMM government, the DepEd came in full force with all top officials present including Regional Directors. The launching was followed by a Management Committee meeting where efforts to strengthen peace education was discussed.

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