HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES – Bataan 1st district congresswoman Geraldine B. Roman recently filed a bill (HB No.3707) that seeks to expand the government’s scholarship program from tertiary to all levels of education.
The bill is known as “AN ACT ESTABLISHING THE NATIONAL SCHOLARSHIP AGENCY, PROVIDING FUNDS THEREFORE , AND AMENDING FOR THIS PURPOSE THE REPUBLIC ACT 10687 ALSO KNOWN AS THE UNIFIED STUDENT FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE SYSTEM FOR TERTIARY EDUCATION (UNIFAST) ACT.”
“Education is considered as one of the vital instruments for national development. More importantly, it has been the catalyst for the growth of human potential. The broadening of the horizons for humanity will not be possible if our youth’s access to education will be hindered,” Roman said.
Roman’s bill aims to create the National Scholarship Agency (NSA), headed by an executive director, under the Office of the President that can implement, disburse, monitor and promote all government scholarships to qualified recipients and grantees, not only in the tertiary level but for all levels. The said agency will also coordinate with foreign counterparts for them to easily access scholarships abroad.
“With the establishment of the National Scholarship Agency, we can make sure that there is a government office that will focus in processing all the available scholarship opportunities for the Filipino people,” she added.
Roman cited an ABS-CBN report last August 31, 2016 entitled “CHED admits difficulty with huge scholarship funds” wherein CHED (Commission on Higher Education) Chairperson Dr. Patricia Licuanan said to members of the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee that her agency has a weak absorptive capacity and cannot cope up with the huge amounts of funds it has been given for scholarships. Licuanan added that the problem started when the task of processing the scholarship funds from the former Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) were given to them.
“Their problem is the scholarships for tertiary students alone. How about the proper management and timely releasing of scholarships for primary, secondary, and post graduate levels including processing of foreign scholarships , grants, and exchange programs for Filipino people?,” Roman added.
The bill also aims to establish a National Scholarship Coordinating Council headed by a Cabinet Secretary as Council Chairman.
For its information dissemination, the NSA will have its own website where notices of availability of scholarship opportunities shall be posted regularly and will be assisted by all government offices in publishing, and posting scholarship program announcements relevant to those government offices, its jurisdiction and areas.–Mhike R. Cigaral