MANILA, Aug. 10— Education has been at the forefront of Australia’s support to the Philippines, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Amanda Gorely has said.
“The BRIDGE program builds friendships through education and I am pleased to launch this initiative in the Philippines with (Education) Secretary (Leonor) Briones,” Gorely said after she and Briones visited the Makati High School on Tuesday.
The Makati High School is the first Philippine partner school of the Building Relationship through Intercultural Dialogue and Growing Engagement (BRIDGE) School Partnerships Program, a flagship program of the Australian government and Australia-ASEAN Council. It links Australian school communities with their counterparts across the region through collaborative learning activities using digital technology.
Briones affirmed the long history of productive engagement between the Australian government and the Department of Education (DepEd) towards the continuous improvement of education quality and access in the Philippines.
“This new program with Australia, BRIDGE, aptly characterizes the Australia-DepEd relationship as a two-way partnership that emphasizes convergence of aspirations and commitment to mutual learning,” she said.
Three other schools in the Philippines will become part of the network of 660 schools in Australia and across Asia linking 985 teachers and more than 100,000 students.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has described the BRIDGE school partnerships as “fostering understanding and friendship between the leaders of the future”.
The program aims to connect Australian teachers, students and school communities with their counterparts across Asia to deepen intercultural understanding; enhance real-life digital skills; and establish a community of multi-lingual learners.
“I thank the Philippine government for participating in the BRIDGE program. It’s a great opportunity for Australian and Filipino students to share experiences and build lifelong connections,” Gorely said in a news release.
While visiting the school, Gorely and Briones participated in a video link discussion with Makati High School’s counterpart St. Paul’s College in Kempsey, New South Wales. Australian students asked about Philippine culture and geography, while the Filipino students learned a bit more about school in Australia and living down under.
Australia, the Philippines’ largest bilateral partner in education, will invest 21.8 million Australian dollars (PHP856 million) in 2017-2018 through its two major programs – the Basic Education Transformation Sector program (BEST) for the national level and Education Pathways to Peace program.