Higher education commission trims number of scholars

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

NOT even a quarter of those who qualified for tertiary education scholarships with the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years will be given scholarships.

This sad plight of thousands who passed qualifications set by the agency was revealed by Ched Assistant Regional Director Ramon Santiago claiming budget for tertiary education has declined in the past years.

Ched Education Program Specialist Cristine Soriano claimed that out of the 1,184 qualified applications submitted by Ched-Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) Director Freddie Bernal to Ched Executive Director Julito Vitriolo, only 251 applicants were given scholarships.
Soriano claimed this is because the region was only given scholarship slots based on the number of graduates and not based on the poverty incidence in the areas.


This meant most scholarships were awarded to qualified applicants from the National Capital Region.

Out of the 251 scholars in the region only 149 were given full merit scholarship covering tuition fees while the rest were only given grants and half-merit scholarships.

However, the scholarships do not also fully cover other fees being paid by the scholar as the P15,000 grants, for example, could not even cover half of what a regular nursing, information technology or engineering student should pay.

This prompted several scholars who are not capable of paying for their tuition to drop-out. Others received failing grades since they could not afford other school requirements.

Thankfully, Soriano said several legislators in the region pledged scholarship grants to deserving students in their districts in state colleges and universities.

The region has had declining figures of Ched scholarship grantees since 2008 from 801 grantees to 537 in 2009 and 251 scholarship slots this school year.

Soriano said this is because the agency’s budget has not been increased for the past years notwithstanding the annual tuition fee increases in private tertiary schools nationwide.

However, Soriano remains optimistic legislators will increase the allocation of their Priority Development Assistance Fund for education scholarships as she sees this as the only way to help deserving scholars in poor provinces escape poverty.

She said this incoming school year, Ched will be offering anew scholarships slots to deserving students who have high National Career Assessment Exam rating and high school grade average.

Parents of Ched scholars must also be of annual low income or endorsed by the municipal mayor through the One Town, One Scholar program to be able to avail of the scholarship.

Deserving students from ethnic groups, persons with disabilities and rebel returnees are also qualified for scholarships in any course they wish to enroll.

One of the Millennium Development Goal targets of the country is to provide education for all to help children from impoverished towns escape poverty and hunger. (JM Agreda)

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 16, 2011.

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