LEGAZPI CITY: The provincial government of Albay has allocated P36 million from its budget to finance the college education of some 34,000 poor but deserving scholars from the province, Gov Joey Sarte Salceda said during the memorandum signing with heads of 53 higher education institutions recently at the Albay Capitol.
“When I was elected governor in 2007, I asked my colleagues in the Provincial Board to give priority to education under my administration,” Salceda said.
The governor has initiated the Education Quality for Albayanos (EQUAL) to take care of scholarship grantees and the Albay Higher Education Contracting Scheme (AHECS), a loan program for college students.
Under AHECS, a student enrolled in any of the college or university, public or private, in Albay is eligible to borrow P5,000 from the provincial government for tuition per semester or P10,000 a year.
“We have stopped offering AHECS scholarship this year because we have already 34,000 college scholars in Albay-14,000 under EQUAL and 16,000 under AHECS,” Salceda said.
“And we continue offering financial assistance for tuition to those who don’t qualify under EQUAL or AHECS.
The latter is called Emergency Financial Assistance to Students in Tertiary Education (EFAT) but which was temporarily stopped for school year 2012-2013, Salceda said.
“At least 14,000 scholars are going to graduate this year,” Salceda said even as he estimated that Albay has now produced some 144,000 to 188,000 college graduates under the provincial government’s scholarship programs.
“I’m still short of 70 college graduates to complete my program of one college graduate in every family in Albay, he revealed.
“When I was first elected congressman (of 3rd district of Albay) I poured all my congressional allocations in my district for education, including the integration of the School for Philippine Craftsmen (SPC) in Polangui with the Bicol University which is now known as BU Polangui Campus,” Salceda said.
“From an enrollment of 289 the BU Polangui campus has an enrollment now of 3,000 students,” the governor added.
Albay is probably the only province in the country that has created through an ordinance a permanent Provincial Education Department (PED).
Aside from taking care of the scholarship program, the PED launches the annual Search for 10 Outstanding Students, 10 Outstanding Teachers, the Outstanding Principals, and “Kadunong” for outstanding LGUs in education.
Salceda explained that AHECS is not accepting new scholars this year because of the slashing by as much as P40M of the province’s Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA).
He assured, however, the 34,000 college scholars of the province that they would be able to finish their college studies with the financial assistance allotted to them.
Before the signing of the MOA, Provincial Board Member Arnold Embestro, chairman of the SP committee on education, told the heads of AHECS- accredited schools that they should submit to the provincial government a report of dropouts or enrolment every September or January of the year.
At least 53 heads of colleges or universities or their representatives signed the MOA with the governor and the provincial board members.
Nenita Villalon and Rowena Ondiz, PED operations officer and planning and research chief, respectively, assisted in the signing ceremonies. – Bicol Mail