Manila-On May 13, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) launched a new fellowship program for Philippine academic officials that will equip them to develop innovative and high-impact programs in higher education.

The Higher Education Innovation Leaders Fellowship Program, part of USAID’s five-year, P1.6-billion ($30 million) United States-Philippines Partnership for Skills, Innovation, and Life-long Learning (UPSKILL) initiative, will bring together 16 senior academic officials from across the Philippines for an 8-month learning experience that will empower them to drive innovation within their organizations.

“This fellowship program represents our investment in developing leaders who will inspire change and strengthen the country’s higher education sector through innovation and collaboration,” USAID Philippines Mission Director Ryan Washburn said during the launch.

The inaugural cohort is composed of two CHED officials and senior academic officials from Ateneo de Davao University, Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University Manila, De La Salle University Laguna, Far Eastern University, Mapua University, Mariano Marcos State University, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Saint Louis University, University of the Philippines, and the University of San Carlos.

The fellows will engage in learning sessions covering global trends in higher education, driving organizational reforms, and crafting innovative solutions to enhance the impact of higher education programs. The highlight of the program is a week-long immersion at Arizona State University, ranked as one of the most innovative universities in the United States.

“These fellows will be bringing contributions and cultivating advocacies of transformation through the fellowship program. I look forward to seeing (them) working collectively toward a goal of a strengthened higher education system leading to inclusive growth in the Philippines,” CHED Chairman Dr. J. Prospero De Vera III said.

During the launch, USAID and CHED also signed a memorandum of understanding that formalizes the areas of collaboration between the United States and the Philippines under USAID’s UPSKILL program. Through UPSKILL, USAID will provide technical assistance in crafting the Philippines’ Higher Education Sectoral Development Plan and implementing the Philippine Qualifications Framework. USAID will also support the development of CHED’s One-Touch Management Information System, a unified platform that will help streamline access to essential services and data visualizations for CHED and its stakeholders.

USAID supports the Philippines’ efforts to strengthen its educational system. Since 2012, USAID has invested more than P3 billion ($60 million) to improve Philippine higher education. (PR)