Remarks by USAID Director Robert Burch, Padayon Mindanao's Calbayog Literacy Summit

Thursday, May 15, 2014

[As Prepared]

Partners from the Department of Education and Department of Social Welfare and Development
U.S. Peace Corps-Philippines, Director of Programming and Training, Sara Wood
Teachers, Peace Corps Volunteers and youth leaders
Maupay nga kulop.

It is an honor to be here today on behalf of the U.S. Embassy Manila’s United States Agency for International Development. I am pleased to have had the opportunity earlier to witness the training for teachers of out-of-school youth conducted through our partnership with the U.S. Peace Corps-Philippines.

Padayon Mindanao continues Peace Corps’ legacy of cross-cultural learning among PC Volunteers, teachers and youth. Youth, especially those from conflict-affected areas, are given the opportunity to develop leadership and other life skills in order to contribute to sustained peace and development in their communities.

Early this year, Padayon Mindanao engaged more than 200 out-of-school youth in a youth leadership camp. Eighteen-year old out-of-school youth Sahira of Lanao del Sur participated in that camp. She shared that the activity provided her an opportunity to interact with other youth leaders and learn more about improve her service to her community as part of the local youth council.

Another Padayon-trained youth is Denisa, a 21-year old out-of-school youth from Sibugay, said the camp inspired her to become an educator and promote the value of education in her community, especially among fellow out-of-school youth.

It is because of future leaders like Sahira and Denisa, along with their great aspirations to improve their communities- that we continue our work with the youth, like through this partnership project with U.S. Peace Corps-Philippines.

Padayon Mindanao’s activities, such as this Literacy Summit for Teachers, demonstrate the USG's commitment to empwer youth to contribute to, and benefit from, more stable, democratic and prosperous communities.

By ensuring that ALS teachers are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge, you help achieve our mutual goal of empowering out-of-school youth to be productive members of their communities.

You help impart the skills needed as building blocks for a positive and successful future. And I do recognize what YOU already bring to the table true motivation- as I walked through the teaching demonstrations earlier I witnessed great compassion for the youth and commitment to the education profession. These characteristics are valuable, and one of the reasons why we continue to invest in all of you and continuously support your role as educators of out-of-school youths.

You have a sizable task in your hands. The teacher-student ratio in the country is quite alarming. On top of that you are now educating the generation that will significantly influence change. Half of the world population now is under the age of 30, making today’s youth the largest generation in history!

In the Philippines alone, almost one third of Filipinos are youth between the ages of 15-30. In Mindanao, there is a significant proportion of this group that did not finish school or receive any type of formal training, making it more difficult for them to fully integrate into the community. These youth face many challenges - from poor access to education, illiteracy, unemployment, to weak representation and having no voice in public, private or civil society sectors.

In response to these challenges, USAID/Philippines’ five-year development strategy that aims to improve peace and stability in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao, focuses on empowering youth, and increasing youth engagement and influence on the development of their community.

USAID and U.S Peace Corps, together with the Philippine government, including the DepED and DSWD, are investing in youth programming by supporting partnership initiatives like Padayon Mindanao, which actively responds to the challenges faced by at-risk Filipino out-of-school youth.

Investing in teacher trainings such as this Literacy Summit, will result in youth with better access to economic and social opportunities; youth that fully participate in democratic and development processes; and youth that demonstrates a stronger voice in local and national institutions. We hopeful that this will result in more stable and prosperous communities.

The youth represent the opportunity of today and tomorrow, as they will be the educators and innovators, entrepreneurs and investors, health professionals and scientists, politicians and peacemakers. Thus, we continue to support this partnership with Peace Corps Philippines, DepED, DSWD, the local government and the YOUTH, as this is a significant step towards ensuring our shared development goal.

On behalf of the U.S. Embassy in Manila and USAID, thank you for your efforts, and I assure you that we remain as committed as ever to this endeavor to provide education opportunities for Filipino youth like Sahira and Denisa.

Maraming salamat po!

Calbayog City
Issuing Country