THE government of Australia has granted $5 million more fund for education projects and programs in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm).

The grant, which was made through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), will be used in the extension of another year in the implementation of the program on Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao (Beam).

Included in the coverage of Beam is the crafting of the new program on education in the province.

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Armm acting Governor Ansaruddin Alonto-Adiong described the grant as a boost to concerted efforts of improving the quality of education in the autonomous region.

The Beam program in Armm, which is composed of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi provinces, and the cities of Lamitan and Marawi, has ended last year.

Adiong and Titon Mitra, minister-counselor for Development Cooperation of AusAID, signed last Wednesday an agreement providing for the grant of the $5 million this year by AusAID to the autonomous region.

The signing rites were held at the Australian Embassy in Manila and witnessed by other AusAID top officials, including Peter Bartu, adviser on peace and conflict development cooperation, and Armm Regional Executive Secretary Naguib Sinarimbo.

Sinarimbo said the National Economic Development Authority (Neda) has approved the request of the Armm Social Fund Program (ASFP) for a fresh $30 million loan from the World Bank for various infrastructure facilities and good governance-building programs in the autonomous region.

Sinarimbo said Adiong was informed of the Neda’s favorable decision shortly after the latter and Mitra signed an agreement for the AusAID fund grant.

ASFP Project Manager Engineer Nasser Sinarimbo said the fresh loan will be used in the region’s 596 villages that still do not have ASFP projects.

Sinarimbo said the World Bank and Armm will set the criteria and the guidelines for selection and identification of projects identified by the stakeholders of these barangays.

ASFP started in the Armm in 2005 and has been extended twice upon request of recipient local government units in the region. (Bong Garcia)