USAID Philippines Mission Director Ryan Washburn and CHED Chairman J. Prospero De Vera III sign a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on strengthening higher education through USAID’s UPSKILL Program.

A new fellowship program has been launched for education officials in the Philippines, aiming to equip them with innovative and effective programs within higher education.

The Higher Education Innovation Leaders Fellowship Program, launched by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) on May 13, will convene 16 senior academic officials from various regions of the country for an eight-month learning experience that targets to empower them to foster innovation within their respective organizations.

They will be 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.

“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.

USAID Philippines Mission Director Ryan Washburn and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman J. Prospero De Vera III pose with the first batch of fellows of the USAID UPSKILL Higher Education Innovation Leaders Fellowship Program, composed of 16 higher education officials from across the Philippines who will participate in an 8-month learning program focused on innovation.

The program is part of USAID’s five-year, ₱1.6-billion ($30 million) United States-Philippines Partnership for Skills, Innovation, and Life-long Learning (UPSKILL) initiative.

During the program, fellows will participate in educational sessions that explore international developments in higher education, methods for implementing organizational changes, and the creation of inventive approaches to improve the effectiveness of higher education initiatives.

A key aspect of the program involves a week-long immersive experience at Arizona State University, recognized as one of the leading innovators among American universities.

“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 Php3 billion ($60 million) to improve Philippine higher education.