MANILA, PHILIPPINES (27 May 2019) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $300 million loan to support the Philippine government’s efforts to achieve inclusive growth by improving access to high quality secondary education that responds to labor market needs.

The Secondary Education Support Program will benefit about 10.6 million students nationwide currently enrolled in high school and an additional 2 million grade 7 entrants yearly from 2019 to 2023. It will help the country boost job opportunities and substantially reduce poverty. The government has set a target of lowering poverty to 14% by 2022 from the current 21%.

“Sustaining the Philippines’ strong growth momentum will require a workforce equipped with the appropriate set of advanced skills and knowledge to allow them to keep in step with the rapid technological changes in the global economy,” said ADB Senior Education Specialist for Southeast Asia Ms. Lynnette Perez. “Continued investments in high quality education are crucial to attaining the government’s vision of lowering unemployment and poverty rates.”

While reforms in the Philippine secondary education system have shown progress, enrollment and graduation rates remain low, especially among students from the poorest households. The government is continuing to address the challenges to quality education by, for example, deploying adequate numbers of specialized teachers, providing sufficient teaching resources, and ensuring the alignment of the curriculum to labor market needs.

The results-based Secondary Education Support Program will help the government sustain its reforms, particularly in offering the poor greater access to better, affordable education. It will disburse funds to the government based on the achievement of agreed reform targets within a specific period. ADB is providing technical assistance to the Department of Education to ensure they achieve targeted reforms and priorities, which are aligned with the Philippine Development Plan.

The program seeks to improve the performance of students in the National Achievement Test and the national certificate assessment for senior high school technical-vocational-livelihood track specialization. It will also help strengthen the secondary education curriculum and increase teacher proficiency and career development. Nearly 294,000 public secondary education teachers, and additional teachers to be hired until 2023, stand to benefit from improved teaching practices, which will lead to better learning outcomes.

The program will also support the Department of Education’s public financial management reforms, including the timely release of secondary schools’ budget for maintenance and operation, tools, and equipment. It will also assess the effectiveness of the Education Service Contracting and the Senior High School Voucher programs.

The Secondary Education Support Program builds on an ongoing ADB assistance under the Senior High School Support Program, which is supporting the establishment and rollout of the government’s senior high school program. It also has supported reforms to recruit qualified science and math teachers, provide more classrooms, implement the new senior high school curriculum, including the technical-vocational-livelihood track, and develop and administer the Senior High School Voucher Program, which is currently benefitting 1.3 million students.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. In 2018, it made commitments of new loans and grants amounting to $21.6 billion. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

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