USAID allots P1.6 billion for Philippines' higher education

Louella Desiderio, Neil Jayson Servallos - The Philippine Star
USAID allots P1.6  billion for Philippines' higher education
Students walk to their schools in Manila yesterday. The Department of Edu- cation announced the opening of school year 2024-2025 for basic education on July 29.
Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has launched a P1.6-billion ($30 million) program that will help the Philippines’ higher education system become more globally competitive.

Launched on Tuesday, the US-Philippines Partnership for Skills, Innovation and Lifelong Learning or UPSKILL program will run for five years.

The program was first announced during President Marcos’ visit to the White House in May last year.

Under the UPSKILL program, US universities, Philippine government agencies and private sector partners will work together to strengthen higher education through faculty and staff training, improvements in the curriculum and conduct of more community outreach and technology transfer, according to the US embassy in Manila.

The program is implemented by nonprofit research institute RTI International through a consortium of US universities, including the Arizona State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, with Philippine partners such as Edukasyon.ph and Philippine Business for Education.

It aims to improve Filipino graduates’ qualifications to meet the labor market’s changing needs and enhance linkages between US and Philippine universities.

“The challenges and opportunities that young people face today in the workplace make college training and education critical for their future success,” said Sara Borodin, USAID deputy assistant administrator for East Asia and the Pacific.

“Through this new USAID program, the US government reaffirms its commitment to working with our Filipino partners in transforming the higher education sector,” she added.

Commission on Higher Education executive director Cinderella Filipina Benitez-Jaro said the partnership will enable CHED to provide Philippine colleges and universities with opportunities to further innovate in response to the country’s aspirations, particularly that of students.

National Economic and Development Authority Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon earlier said that a stronger higher education system would lead to a bigger pool of innovators that would benefit the economy.?

Rest days

Giving teachers uninterrupted rest days could help the country improve its performance in the next Programme for International Student Assessment, the Department of Education (DepEd) said yesterday.

DepEd annnounced earlier this week that teachers will have an uninterrupted 30-day break from June 1 to 30 when classes end this school year (SY 2023-2024).

The measure is part of the Feb. 19 Department Order 003 that cuts short classes in public schools by at least seven days for SY 2023-2024 as part of the gradual return to the old June-March academic calendar that would fully take hold four school years from now.

DepEd Assistant Secretary Francis Bringas said prohibiting supervisors from assigning mandatory and voluntary tasks to teachers from June 1 to 30 might help teachers be well-rested in the next school year.

“This is for them to enjoy their vacation because, in the past, we have many DepEd-initiated activities during the summer, during the two-month break. It takes away time for teachers and students to rest after each school year,” Bringas told radio dzBB.

Teachers have been decrying continued work to fulfill requirements imposed by DepEd that have taken over what should be their mandatory break, including the accomplishment of their portfolio for the Results-Based Performance Management System, which is used for their performance evaluation.

In DO 003, DepEd announced that this school year (2023-2024) would end on May 31 to enable SY 2024-2025 classes to open on July 29 and end on May 16, 2025.

Through the current adjustment, DepEd proposes that SY 2026-2027 will start on June 22, 2026 and end on April 2, 2027.

For SY 2027-2028, the expected school year for the full return of the old March-May school break, classes will open on June 7, 2027 and end on March 17, 2028.

By SY 2028-2029, classes are expected to open by June 5, 2028. 

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