Rebuilding education in Mindanao, Philippines
26 October, 2012
Australia helps improve access of Muslim children to culturally-relevant education. Photo: Jing Damaso / AusAID
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Philippines President Benigno S. Aquino III have announced Australia will provide $85 million over six years to help rebuild education in Mindanao after decades of conflict in the southern Philippines.
The leaders announced the new aid program during President Aquino’s visit to Australia from October 24-26, 2012.
The Basic Education Assistance to Mindanao – Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao program, or BEAM-ARMM, will support around 40,000 children gain access to a basic education.
The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is one of the poorest regions in the Philippines. Previous conflicts have denied communities opportunities to lift themselves out of poverty. Since 1972, between 75,000 and 120,000 people have been killed and thousands of children have missed out on an education.
Improving conditions for peace and security in Mindanao is a priority for Australia’s development assistance in the Philippines. BEAM-ARMM has been designed to help the government of the Philippines give thousands of Mindanao’s most disadvantaged children a proper education. Over six years the program will construct 2,500 classrooms, deliver health and hygiene programs to 300 public elementary schools and provide technical and vocational training for 20,000 out-of-school youth.
Australia’s commitment to promoting peace in Mindanao
Australia remains committed to helping the Philippines address conflict-related development challenges in Mindanao.
Approximately half of Australia’s bilateral aid program ($129 million in 2012-13) has been spent in Mindanao in recent years. Aid in conflict-affected areas is mainly targeted at improving the quality of and access to basic education across 3,000 schools, including Islamic pre-schools.
In 2011-12, Australia supported the introduction of a culturally appropriate kindergarten curriculum for Muslim children in 139 public schools and 60 private Madaris. The program reaches around 16,500 children including more than 10,000 who are living in conflict affected communities.
Australia has also assisted local non-government organisations that work to reduce violent conflict in Mindanao. A total of 258 local clan disputes were resolved through the Lupon Tagapamayapa program in 2010 and 2011, facilitated by our support to Catholic Relief Services. In Sulu, our support to local NGOs through the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue enabled the Tumikang Sama Sama network to resolve nine violent clan conflicts and current mediation in nine others, two of which are near to settlement. The resolution of these conflicts, which killed over 100 people and displaced thousands, has enabled people to return to their farms, bring their goods safely to markets, and children to return to school.
Following the 15 October signing of a framework peace agreement between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, there is now increased hope for lasting peace and stability.
The peace and development prospects for Mindanao following the signing of the framework agreement was a focus of discussion at the AusAID-sponsored Philippines Update conference at the Australian National University from 11-12 October 2012.
Cabinet Secretary of the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Hon. Corazon ‘Dinky’ Juliano Soliman, delivered the keynote address and eleven experts on Philippine politics, economics, conflict resolution and development discussed peace prospects and development challenges.