By Pia Lee-Brago, March 12, 2021; The Philippine Star

Manila, Philippines — The United States and the Department of Education (DepEd) have signed a new five-year bilateral assistance agreement, valued at more than P4.8 billion or $100 million, to improve basic education outcomes in the Philippines.

Through the agreement, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and DepEd continue and deepen their commitment to help children and out-of-school youth acquire the education and skills they need to succeed.

The agreement will advance the country’s efforts by increasing literacy rates, improving math competencies, enhancing social skills, improving second-chance education, employment and life skills for out-of-school youth and strengthening education governance.

Lawrence Hardy II, USAID Philippines mission director, said this new bilateral agreement with DepEd to improve basic education outcomes marks a new era in the longstanding partnership to achieve a shared vision of quality education for all Filipino children and youth.

“These programs will strengthen Philippine institutions to provide quality education. It also recognizes the important and unique contributions the private sector and civil society bring to partnerships in achieving better education results,” Hardy added.

The bilateral agreement with DepEd is one of the four new assistance agreements between the US and the Philippines launched in 2020 and 2021, with an anticipated total value of P32.7 billion or $675 million over five years.

The other new agreements include that with the Department of Health to strengthen health systems and bolster the quality of health services, especially in treating tuberculosis and providing access to family planning services and community-based drug dependence treatment.

It also includes that with the Department of Finance to accelerate inclusive, market-driven economic growth by advancing policies that increase investment and trade, promoting private sector-led innovation and increasing information and communications technology access for the digital economy as well as that with the National Economic and Development Authority to protect the environment by promoting sustainable use of natural resources, expanding access to renewable energy and reducing risks from natural disasters.

Since 1945, the US has supported the Philippines in advancing the country’s development goals. Over the past 20 years alone, it has provided nearly P228.8 billion ($4.5 billion) in total assistance.