Australia, The Asia Foundation Provide New Books to Public Elementary Schools in Bohol
Tagbilaran City, October 1, 2014 — As part of its broader support to help improve education in the Philippines, specifically in the province of Bohol, the Australian government partnered with The Asia Foundation to help augment learning resources of public elementary schools in the province’s 47 municipalities and one component city. Australia, through The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia program, donated 40,000 new books to 250 public elementary schools in Bohol.
The books turnover event coincided with the Abot-Alam national launch spearheaded by the Department of Education (DepEd) and supported by the Australian Embassy – The Asia Foundation Partnership in the Philippines. Abot-Alam is a convergence effort initiated by the DepEd, together with the National Youth Commission (NYC), other national government agencies, civil society organizations, and local government units. The program intends to map all out-of-school youth (OSY) in the country and integrate them in available program interventions in education, employment, and entrepreneurship.
DepEd Secretary Br. Armin Luistro FSC and Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Bill Tweddell graced the ceremony, together with Undersecretary Mario Deriquito, Bohol Governor Edgardo Chatto, NYC Chairperson Gio Tingson and Commissioner Jose Sixto Dantes III. Among the special guests, Dasmarinas Mayor Jennifer Austria-Barzaga with Fr. Jerome Marquez of the Arnold Janssen Catholic Mission Foundation, Nagcarlan Laguna Counselor Amelia Malabag-Hernandez, and Pastor Reinerio Sobior, a graduate of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) program, shared their Abot-Alam success stories.
Secretary Luistro updated that with Abot-Alam, 1.2 million OSYs are now mapped and 76,000 of them linked to ALS, received skills training, or have been employed. He said that DepEd, together with the Abot-Alam consortium and partners will continue to work together to reach the OSYs in the country. Likewise, Governor Chatto is one with the vision of DepEd to deliver “quality education even to those outside formal institutions.”
“We fully support DepEd’s efforts in implementing education reforms that promote inclusive social and economic development. Like the Philippines, Australia believes that education is a critical component of human development and a driver for inclusive growth. This is why education is a flagship focus of Australia’s aid program in the Philippines,” said Ambassador Tweddell.
The ceremonial books turnover for the municipalities shortly followed. The Asia Foundation Country Representative, Dr. Steven Rood and Books for Asia Program Coordinator Reynald Ocampo, together with DepEd’s National Program Manager for Abot-Alam Gina Estipona, and Bohol Education Development Center Head Dr. Cerina Bolos handed over the books to the different municipal mayors and public school district supervisors. The University of Bohol, a beneficiary of the long-running Philippines-Australia Community Assistance Program (PACAP), also received books.
Australia continues to be the Philippines’ lead bilateral grant donor in basic education and the Books for Asia program distributes free books and supplementary reading materials to schools nationwide as a continuing commitment to promote education and literacy in the country.
Aside from the Australian government, the DepEd, and the Bohol provincial government’s support, the Foundation acknowledges the unrelenting support of other partners: Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL), Asian Terminals, Inc. (ATI), and Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) for the waived shipping charges, and Penguin Group for generously donating brand new children’s books.
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