Albay comes up with new scholarship program for senior high school students

An official of the provincial education department in Albay said the province will continue to provide scholarships but with new sets of guidelines so that the main beneficiaries will be the poor and deserving high school students.

Dr. Cham Zuniga, head of Albay’s Provincial Education Department (PED), said they are in the process of making the guidelines for the program to be known as the “Governor’s Distinction List."

He said the provincial government will be coordinating with all public senior high schools in Albay to look for the 20 top honor students per school who could qualify for the program.

Zuniga said Governor Al Francis Bichara wants the local government unit (LGU) to shoulder the college tuition fees per semester of the scholars but the latter will not be obliged to pay back the LGU.

“It’s free and not a loan," said Zuniga.

He explained the new scholarship program is different from the Albay Higher Education Continuing Scheme (AHECS) undertaken under the administration of former governor and now Albay second district Rep. Joey Salceda.

Under AHECS, every Albayano family was assured the chance to send their children to college with grantees given a PHP 5,000 loan each semester but on the condition that the loan will be repaid after the scholar graduates and starts to work.

Zuniga said a PHP700-million loan from Landbank of the Philippines had made possible the nine-year implementation of AHECS.

He said, however, that the provincial government has found difficulty paying the principal loan and PHP 35 million of interest per year for the loan.

Zuniga said Bichara does not want this to happen again with the “Governor’s Distinction List” program.

He said the provincial government will draw funds from its savings and look for ways to generate more funds to sustain the new scholarship program.

“Initially 20 top honor students per senior high school will benefit from the scholarships but eventually all poor and deserving students who want to finish college will get the chance to avail of the scholarship,” said Zuniga.

He said they hope to implement this new program by next schoolyear or by 2018-2019. (Jorge Hallare/PNA)