Senator Sonny Angara is set to file a bill that will provide assistance to deserving Filipino students who wish to pursue their higher education overseas.
Angara said he is looking at expanding the scope of Senate Bill 961 or the proposed Pensionado Act, which he filed at the start of the 18th Congress in 2019, to cover high school graduates.
“Marami tayo na 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,” Angara 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,” the Senator added.
Apart from the experience of being independent, Angara said that there is so much knowledge that a young student can gain from studying overseas, particularly in specialized fields of study such as those related to mathematics and science.
“Once they have earned their degrees, these scholars can bring back home what they have learned and use these for our benefit in a form of knowledge transfer,” Angara said.
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.
A national secretariat will be established to assist in the negotiations with the sponsors of fellowships, scholarships and grants, and provide continuing assistance to the scholars.
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 as frontiers or new areas essential for pushing the economic and social development thrusts of the country.
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; enthusiastic in undergoing further training; 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.
In the case of the 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,” Angara said.
Under the bill, a national network of specialized institutes for advanced studies will be established to provide returned scholars an office, laboratory, library and conference facilities for their continuing activities.
There will also be an exchange program and collaborative research among local and international scientists and scholars in priority areas of research and development.