MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $300 million loan to the Philippines to support sweeping reforms, spearheaded by the government, to the school system, with a focus on the addition of two years of senior high school.

“These major changes are designed to improve educational outcomes and better prepare students for both work and further education and training, as part of the government’s broader push for more inclusive growth,” said Norman LaRocque, Principal Education Specialist in ADB’s Southeast Asia Department. “ADB’s assistance will target improvements at the senior high school level including curriculum development, new school infrastructure and a voucher program to help students with tuition costs.”

The Philippines secondary school system faces access and quality challenges that hinder its ability to translate the country’s recent strong economic growth into better labor market outcomes for youth and reduced poverty. The Government of the Philippines in school year 2011/12 began implementing its new K to 12 reform plan, which introduced kindergarten and extended the period of basic schooling from 10 to 12 years. A key part of that reform is the addition of two years of senior high school, which will take effect from school year 2016/17.

The reforms are expected to cost around $4.4 billion from 2015 to 2019. ADB’s program will support selected elements of those reforms, including the development of new senior high school curricula for mathematics, science, and technical and vocational training programs. Assistance will also be given to build classrooms, to engage and train up to 84,000 teachers, and to develop and introduce a voucher system to help cover tuition fees for an estimated 800,000 senior high school students each year.

The main beneficiaries of ADB’s assistance will be about 5.9 million students who are expected to enter senior high school from June 2016 to April 2019 during the early implementation phase of the new system.

The ADB loan to the Philippines is the fourth results-based lending program approved by ADB, and the first in Southeast Asia and the Philippines. Results-based lending links disbursements directly to the achievement of program results. The loan complements other ADB support being provided to improve employment outcomes for youth in the Philippines.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2013, ADB assistance totaled $21.0 billion, including co-financing of $6.6 billion.

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