By JOHLAN F. PROUSABAR
NAGA CITY — Believing that education is the key to free the city’s poor constituents from the cycle of poverty, the Sanggunian Panlungsod (SP) here approved recently an ordinance that will allocate a budget of P 10 million annually starting 2011 to finance the collegiate studies of poor but deserving students.
Dubbed as Naga’s Tertiary Scholarship Program, Ordinance No. 2010-036 states that a P 10 million fund be provided every year starting 2011 to provide scholarships to some 500 to 700 college and vocational students per year.
Authored by Councilor Nelson legacion, chairman of the SP Committee on Education, the ordinance aims to ensure that at least one family member in each family in the city is a college graduate to improve the poor’s social and economic standing and to boost the development of the city by maintaining a skilled and educated workforce.
Legacion said the program will provide a full scholarship of P18,000 and a partial scholarship of P 9,000 to students whose average grade is 2.0 (85 percent) and 2.5 (80 percent), respectively, provided that their family’s annual gross income is less than P 180,000.
Students, however, from families belonging to the City’s Sanggawadan Program and the national government’s “Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program” will be given more priority and will have additional assistance of P 5,000 as these students can be considered “poorest of the poor.”
An incentive scheme is also provided for bright students who maintain an average grade above 1.25, giving them an additional assistance of P 5,000 per semester.
“The maximum assistance is based on the recent tuition fees prevailing in the University of the Philippines. It is also to accommodate more grantees and to prevent others from abusing the program to enroll in luxurious courses, though they could, of course, but they have to prove their worth by vying for the incentives,” Legacion said.
In addition to this, the ordinance also provides that all 27 barangays of Naga should also have their own Tertiary Scholarship Program, which may be availed subject to the same or a better policy provided in the ordinance.
Starting 2011, each barangay is now required to allocate a sum equivalent to not less than 25 percent of the Sangguniang Kabataan Fund, or an equivalent of P 2 million according to the current financial data. The additional amount is projected to benefit 200 more scholars.
Aside from the scholarship, the Naga City government pledges to prioritize and assist the graduate scholars in obtaining gainful employment either in the city government itself or in any entity, whether public or private.
“At most two years after the scholar obtained a gainful employment, which means that his monthly net income is at least triple the prescribed minimum wage in Naga City, he will be asked to pay the amount he was granted during his term as scholar. This is one of our means to sustain the program and instill social responsibility to our scholars,” Legacio said.
“But there are exemptions though for those who are the family’s only breadwinner and are extending substantial educational assistance to his siblings,” he added.
Participation to the City’s CommuniTeach or similar mentoring program intended for public school pupils will also earn for the scholar a repayment discount of 10 percent per year of attendance thereto.
To facilitate and maintain the program, the ordinance mandates the creation of a scholarship office. It will later become a division of a proposed Education, Scholarship and Sports Office, another new bureau the current administration is planning to create following the institutionalization of Arts, Culture and Tourism Office (ACTO).
Meanwhile, a scholarship board has been also organized to serve as a governing, policy-making, advisory and recommendatory body in the implementation of the program.