/ 10 July 2021

SENATOR Juan Edgardo ‘Sonny’ Angara vowed to push a measure that will provide assistance to deserving Filipino students who wish to pursue their higher education overseas.

Angara aims to expand the scope of Senate Bill 961 or the proposed Pensionado Act, which he filed in 2019, to cover high school graduates.

“Marami tayong mga estudyanteng magagaling at matalino na may pagkakataon na ipagpatuloy ang kanilang edukasyon sa ilang prestihiyoso na unibersidad sa ibang bansa. Subalit dahil sa sobrang taas ng halagang pera na kailangan para dito ay mas marami ang napipilitan na ibaon na lang sa limot ang oportunidad na ito,” he said.

“I had the good fortune of studying abroad through the support of my parents. But not everyone is as fortunate and this is how the Pensionado Act can help deserving students in fulfilling their aspirations,” he added.

Under the proposed Pensionado Act, the government will provide support to outstanding college graduates, who are employed and wish to pursue advanced studies overseas.

A Pensionado Program will be established under the Commission on Higher Education wherein all fellowships, scholarships, and training grants sponsored or extended by foreign governments, agencies and other bodies; local agencies and organizations, whether private or public, intended for advanced studies in international centers of advanced learning, scholarship and research will be pooled together.

The bill provides for the selection of 24 fellows annually — three from each priority discipline/industry field of the eight vital disciplines or areas of specialization identified by the CHED, in consultation with the National Economic and Development Authority.

The scholarships shall be for a period not exceeding three years.

To qualify for the fellowship program, the applicant must be a Filipino citizen; gainfully employed; a college degree graduate, with honors; with demonstrated leadership and proven exceptional performance in his/her present work; and willing to sign a contract requiring him/her to return to his/her job in another capacity after training.

Assistance will be provided to the grantees in the form of three years leave with pay, including allowances and other benefits; round-trip air fare and other expenses required for foreign travel; clothing allowance; monthly stipend; books/instructional materials/research allowance; and health, travel and insurance fees.

For incoming college students, Angara said the program should cover the duration of the course chosen by the grantee, including board and lodging.

“The cost can be shared by the foreign government, institution or organization and the national government. We shouldn’t see this as an additional expense but rather an investment on our youth,” the senator said.