Australia recognises contributions of Bangsamoro scholars

Davao City, Philippines -- Thirty-two scholars of the Australian Government’s In-Country Scholarship Program (ICSP) were recently honoured for completing their postgraduate studies under the program and for implementing their respective re-entry action plans (REAPs). Australian Ambassador to the Philippines HK Yu PSM and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Asnin Pendatun led the recognition of ICSP scholars.

Now in its third phase, the ICSP provides opportunities for leaders and technical specialists from the BARMM to pursue postgraduate studies in premier academic institutions in the Philippines and contribute to addressing the needs of the Bangsamoro government. Since its launch in 2012, 158 scholarships have been awarded.

“The Australian Government is a consistent supporter of the initiatives of the BARMM Government when it comes to our direction in empowering the Bangsamoro People through education and intensive trainings for emerging Bangsamoro leaders. It hits close to our hearts because these acts of generosity and solidarity are built on mutual trust, not only in the confidence bestowed on the potential of our people but also in the results of the peace process,” said Pendatun.

The ICSP is one of the programs of the Australian Government that support peace and development in Mindanao. Through the years, ICSP alumni have made outstanding contributions in government, military, academe, business, sciences, and development.

Among those recently honoured is Nesreen Hadjirasid, who led BIDA ang May Disiplina: Solusyon sa COVID-19, which was her REAP. “As a government worker or civil servant, the ICSP scholarship has significantly helped me in understanding governance and policymaking and enriched my skills and knowledge as a government communicator in the [Department of the Interior and Local Government] Public Affairs and Communication Service,” said Nesreen. Her REAP promoted COVID-19 health and safety protocols among the public. Nesreen completed Master of Public Administration at the University of the Philippines – Diliman.

Meanwhile, ICSP alumnus Potchong Jackaria, a public school teacher in Tawi-Tawi, underscored the value of the program not only to him but to his hometown. “When the pandemic hit, the learnings I had under the ICSP became very valuable. As the then district coordinator for academics, I spearheaded the formulation of the District Learning Continuity Plan, which laid down the strategies on how we should conduct our classes in times of pandemic. This document then became a guide for our schools in formulating their contextualized continuity plans.” Potchong took up Master of Science Education Major in Mathematics at the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology.

Civil Service Commission Chairperson Karlo Nograles encouraged the recipients of the program to give back to the Bangsamoro community: “I call on all the recipients of this program especially those who are employed in the government, civil society, or engaged in project development work, to put these learnings into good use to help in the development of the Bangsamoro region – to give back to your community and workplaces.”

A new batch of 10 scholars from the Bangsamoro will commence their studies in May 2023.

ICSP complements the Australia Awards, which provides postgraduate studies in Australia’s leading universities. ICSP provides professional development opportunities for Filipinos who are unable to study in Australia because of work or family demands.