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U.S. launches Php 1.6-Billion UPSKILL Program for PH higher education
U.S. launches Php 1.6-Billion UPSKILL Program for PH higher education
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U.S. launches Php 1.6-Billion UPSKILL Program for PH higher education
by Karen Ow-Yong22 February 2024
Photo courtesy of US Embassy Manila

MANILA – The U.S. government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), formally launched on Wednesday the U.S. – Philippines Partnership for Skills, Innovation, and Lifelong Learning (UPSKILL) Program, aimed at helping Philippine higher education become more globally competitive by strengthening innovation, workforce development, and entrepreneurship in colleges and universities in the country.

In a statement, the US Embassy in Manila said that the program was jointly announced by U.S. President Joseph Biden and President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., during the latter’s visit to the White House last May 2023.

The UPSKILL Program, worth an estimated PHP 1.6 billion (USD 30 million), is expected to bring together U.S. universities, Philippine government agencies engaged in human capital development, and private sector partners to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in higher education institutions through faculty training and staff training, improvement of curriculums, and increasing community outreach and technology transfer.

According to the Embassy, such efforts will improve the qualifications and career prospects of Filipino higher education graduates and to meet the ever-changing needs of the workforce as well as strengthen connections between U.S. and Philippine universities.

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“The challenges and opportunities that young people face today in the workplace make college training and education critical for their future success,” visiting USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for East Asia and the Pacific Sara Borodin said during the UPSKILL Program launch at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila.

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

USAID’s UPSKILL Program, which will run for five years, will be implemented by RTI International through a consortium of U.S. universities, including Arizona State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

They will be working closely with Philippine partners such as Edukasyon.ph and the Philippine Business for Education.

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Meanwhile, officials from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Second Congressional Education Commission, Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines, as well as representatives from several Philippine universities attended the program launch.

According to CHED Executive Director Cinderella Filipina Benitez-Jaro, they are looking forward to providing Philippine higher education the unique opportunities to continuously innovate in response to the aspirations of the country, and most especially that of the students.

"With this partnership with USAID, the Commission on Higher Education will provide unique opportunities for our colleges and universities to continuously innovate in response to the aspirations of the Philippines, and specifically that of our students,” Benitez-Jaro said.

“Together, we will demonstrate the compelling value of internationally recognized training, cooperative research, and lifelong learning modalities being offered by Philippine higher education,” she added.

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