US vows continuous aid to RP

UNITED States Ambassador Kristie Kenney said they will continue to give help to the country, especially to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm).

The aid, she said, is a sign of the US commitment to further the strong ties between the two countries.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

In an interview after the celebration of the centenary of the First Teachers Assembly in commemoration of the “Thomasites” in Baguio City, Kenney said Mindanao will continue to be their focus in development aid as she referred to the resource-rich but conflict-driven region as the “least developed and most in need.”

The Department of Education (DepEd) earlier cited the support being given by the US Agency for International Development (Usaid) in education projects in the region hobbled by armed conflict between separatist groups and the government.

With Usaid support, DepEd has intensified government efforts to improve access to quality education and provide livelihood opportunities for children and the youth in the southern Philippines, particularly in areas most affected by conflict and poverty like the Armm.

“There is an urgent need for a stronger public-private sector alliance to meet the education needs of Mindanao, especially in the Armm,” said Education Secretary Jesli Lapus.

He said, “A framework to pool various initiatives into one program assures efficiency and effectiveness.”

The US government’s Equalls project has helped improve the quality of education of nearly 500,000 public elementary students in Mindanao.

The project has trained nearly 10,000 teachers in core subjects like English, Science and Mathematics and has provided almost two million books to schools in the region, Lapus added.

Equalls is short for Education Quality and Access for Learning and Livelihood Skills.

Aside from the Armm, the program also focuses on war-torn communities in the Zamboanga Peninsula (Region IX) and the Cotabato area (Region XII).

Launched in 2004, Equalls is a five-year US$30.1-million initiative that combines the efforts of Usaid partners from government, civil society and the corporate sector.

The aid agency has allocated US$85 million for Phase 2 of the project (2006-2011), which aims to “increase learning opportunities for children and youth through community support for education,” the official said.

It also aims to strengthen capacity for teaching English, Math and Science and improve relevance and training for out-of-school children and youth.

Equalls has offices in Manila, Cotabato City and Zamboanga City.

The Education Development Center, Inc., a US-based international non-profit organization, coordinates all Equalls projects.

It also provides technical support to development organizations like the Assistance for the Comprehensive Educational Development of Mindanao (Ascend Mindanao)-Save the Children, Books Across the Sea (Bets), Dagyawang Igpaw sa Wastong Agkataw (Diwa), Education and Livelihood Skills Alliance (Elsa), Improving English Language Teaching and Learning in Mindanao (IELTLM), Television Education for the Advancement of Muslim Mindanao, and Tudlo Mindanao (Teach Mindanao)-US Peace Corps.

According to the Usaid, “the private sector partners (of Equalls) are matching and in nearly all cases exceeding funding amounts by the Usaid. (AH/Sunnex)


My Take:

Especially to the ARMM huh?  Hmmm… The US is indeed protecting its interests there.  Mining, logging, prestine scenery (potential tourist spot), realty, cheap labor, and of course the control to the long-dreamed BIMP:Brunie-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines circle of trade.

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