By ANTONIO G. PAPA, Ph.D.
In the Philippine setting, the children of the marginal farmers and subsistence fishermen are often in a disadvantaged situation as far as education is concerned.
Usually, the children from the farming and fishing communities do not want to duplicate their parents’ farming or fishing vocation. The main reason is that they do not want to repeat the experiences of their parents––that their family has succumbed to extreme poverty––so that the majority of them could not go to college.
In fact, some of them are high school drop-outs that form part of the unemployed population in the country. For the high school graduates and college drop-outs, eventually they are employed in the industry and service sectors––leaving the tasks in the agriculture sector to their aging parents.
Good news for the youth–the Government provides them with the opportunity to avail of free-college education particularly in the State/Local Universities and Colleges (SUCs/LUCs) strategically located all-over the country.
Thus, the youth can now be motivated to pursue and finish senior high school education for them to be eligible for college education right there in the locality with zero-expense. They, if qualified, will become “Scholars ng Bayan” whose educational expenditures are subsidized by the government.
On top of this scenario, there are government agencies that provide undergraduate scholarships and financial assistance to deserving student-applicants. These are the Commission on Higher Education (CHED); Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Training Institute (DA-ATI); and Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK).
CHED Student Financial Assistance Program
The CHED Student Financial Assistance Program (CHED-StuFAP) aims to provide financial assistance to students who are enrolled in authorized public or private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).
This helps ensure that education shall be accessible to all, especially to underprivileged and deserving students. Qualified beneficiaries shall enroll or must be currently enrolled in any CHED priority courses and shall receive financial assistance amounting to P15,000,00 to P30,000,00 per semester whichever program an applicant qualifies.
The priority courses are Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Agriculture Technology, Agriculture and its hybrid programs, Agro-Forestry, Animal Husbandry, Animal Science, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Fisheries, Food Technology/Science, Forestry, and Horticulture.
The financial assistance to CHED Scholars shall cover tuition and other school fees (TOSF) plus stipend which shall be released directly to the scholars or through HEIs per semester of a given academic year until the completion of the degree program.
DA-ATI Scholarship Programs
The DA-ATI offers both degree and non-degree scholarship programs for undergraduate students and out-of-school youths.
The Youth in Agriculture and Fisheries Program (YAFP). DA-ATI has a scholarship program that encourages capable and deserving youth, particularly the children of smallholder farmers and fishers to pursue studies and professional career in agriculture and fisheries. Scholarships will be provided through the SUCs, private colleges and universities approved by the ATI Capability Building Program Committee.
Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund Scholarship Program. The ACEF scholarship program is intended for children of Filipino farmers and fisherfolk.
The ACEF scholarship program is implemented in partnership with the SUCs and Private Educational Institutions (PEIs) that offers courses in agriculture, fishery, forestry, and others related or complementary to agriculture and fisheries development.
ACEF will shoulder the scholar’s school expenses including the tuition and miscellaneous fee (excluding books), monthly stipend of P1,000.00 and a P5,000.00 thesis writing allowance.
The scholarship covers the entire duration of the academic program, from first to fourth year of the course. However in order to enjoy ACEF scholarship, the student must pass all enrolled subjects each semester.
DA-ATI supports students for the following non-degree programs: Youth Empowerment through a Sustainable Program (YESP) and Young Filipino Farmers Training Program in Japan (YFTTPJ).
In partnership with the Foundations for People Development, Inc. – Molding Future Innovations (FPD-MFI), DA-ATI offer a two-year YESP scholarship program to the members of 4-H clubs nationwide. This is especially focused for the out-of-school youths (OSYs) and high school graduates to equip them with knowledge and skills in agriculture and entrepreneurship technology. The program aims to have a new generation of farmers who will continue and sustain the agricultural activities in the country, ensuring food security for all.
In collaboration with the Japan Agricultural Exchange Council (JAEC) and Japan Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (Japan-MAFF), DA-ATI offers the YFTTPJ program for male OSY Filipino farmers with two years of farming experience. This program will equip them with technical knowledge and skills in agricultural and cooperative management; offer them learning opportunities on agricultural information; as well as appreciate the Japanese culture, work, and values.
LANDBANK Gawad Patnubay Scholarship Program
With Landbank’s mandate of helping spur and sustain countryside development, the LANDBANK Gawad Patnubay (Gawad Pag-aaral Tungo sa Maunlad na Bayan) Scholarship Program is an education-to-employment initiative designed to benefit underprivileged but deserving students who shall specialize in the fields of agriculture and fisheries.
The program aims to develop skills in modern agriculture, renew enthusiasm for the agricultural sector, promote sustainable development, and reduce poverty in the countryside through quality education.
The financial assistance provided by the program is funded by about P8,000 for LANDBANK employees through voluntary salary contribution with a minimum of one hour’s worth of their salary during the last working day of the year.
E2E Internship Program
Aside from offering educational funding, the Gawad Patnubay Scholarship Program also has an Education-to-Employment (E2E) internship component. E2E opens opportunities for scholars to prepare them after graduation, and aims to secure agriculture-related jobs for scholars at the end of the program.
Upon successful program completion, the scholars will participate in a 10-week intensive internship program composed of three weeks of lectures, seminars, and professional and personality development activities at the Landbank Head Office in Manila. Additionally, scholars will experience seven weeks of field work in LANDBANK or in different partner-institutions.
The above-mentioned local scholarship and financial assistance providers for needy undergraduate students regularly announce their respective yearly schedule for the information of interested applicants of the program.
Hopefully, more Scholars ng Bayan, upon having trained in agriculture and fisheries will go back to the farms and the sea to apply their knowledge and skills gained in the academe for food security purposes.