The Manila Times : BBM-Sara tandem to revive CHEd's scholarship program

12 March 2022

By Catherine S. Valente | The Manila Times

THE tandem of presidential candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and his running mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio on Friday has vowed to revive the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) Scholarship Program (CSP), believing that "investing in the education of our youth should be a priority."

The duo made the remark following CHEd's recent announcement that applications for the CSP for incoming first-year college students for academic year 2022-2023 have been "temporarily" suspended.

"The UniTeam stands firm in its belief that investing in the education of our youth should be a priority. As such, the CSP is one program that we are keen on restarting if given the opportunity to serve by our people," the tandem said in a statement.

Marcos and Duterte-Carpio also stressed the importance of sustaining the education of the CHEd scholars because they have the potential to become experts and leaders in their respective fields.

"We need to invest more in the education of our youth, not less. Instead of them being the first in line to sacrifice in these budget cuts, let us make sure that we have adequate funding to sustain their studies because from their midst will come our future experts and leaders [of the country]," the survey frontrunners said.

"We remain committed to continuing President Duterte's Build, Build, Build program. On top of this, we will implement a robust digital infrastructure program that would support the digital shift in education and commerce," they added.

CHEd Chairman Prospero de Vera 3rd has already directed the agency's regional offices to disseminate the information on the matter to avoid the spread of misinformation and confusion among students who want to apply for scholarships.

The suspension is an "offshoot of budget inadequacy" in the commission's fiscal year 2022 budget for Student Financial Assistance Programs, according to the CHEd's memorandum released on February 21.

The memorandum refers to the full and half scholarships under the State Scholarship and Private Education Student Financial Assistance.

They are intended for students entering first year college with a general weighted average of at least 96 percent, or its equivalent, for full merit program and 93 percent to 95 percent, or its equivalent, for half merit program.

These students must enroll in private higher education institutions, state universities and colleges or accredited local universities and colleges.

The assistance covers tuition and other school fees, a stipend and book/connectivity allowance per semester.

Even though the education department received the largest share of the P5.02-trillion national budget for 2022, at P788.52 billion, CHEd's allocation is only P31.68 billion, down from P50.51 billion last year.

CHEd has yet to announce the total number of scholars who will be affected by the CSP's suspension.

Earlier, de Vera called the CHEd Scholarship Program as the commission's "biggest scholarship program," offering a P120,000 grant per school year to private school students and an P80,000 grant per school year to public school students.

"Unlike other programs that are designed for the financially needed," the program is "purely merits- or grades-based," he said.

Scholarships are automatically renewed in the succeeding year if a student maintains their grades.