LEGAZPI CITY – Albay has earmarked some P236 million funds to finance the college studies of 34,000 scholars across the province despite budgetary constraints, a ranking official of the province said today.
Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said the Albay Higher Education Scheme (AHECS) this school year would have to spend some P116 million to finance the initial 11,160 AGHECS scholars that will enter their second year in their chosen courses.
However, the AHECS Finance Committee announced that, due to budgetary constraints, they were compelled to limit their scholarship slots to only 5,000 scholars this year, which would be equivalent to another P50 million in funding requirement.
This is on top of the P50 million for 13,000 students enrolled in community colleges under Education Quality for Albayanos (EQUAL), Salceda said.
He said that with 27,000 high school graduates annually, the Provincial Education Department (PED) has decided to provide a lifeline to 5,000 new college enrolees who can not be accommodated by the AHECS.
Total assistance to college students would reach P236 million in 2011 and total assisted post-secondary/tertiary students would reach 34,000 in various degrees and year-levels.
Aside from being the only province and the only LGU that has a Provincial Education Department, Albay now has the single-largest college scholarship program in the history of the Philippines, even exceeding Cocofed, GSIS or CHED at any point in their student assistance programs, he pointed out.
Salceda said to cushion the effect of funds limitation for education, he initiated an Emergency Financial Assistance for Students in Tertiary Education of the EFAST, a new educational program with P10 million funding to give limited assistance of P2,000 for those students not included in the AHECS or EQUAL programs.
“Like AHECS, the EFAST slots are being distributed through the provincial Board Members to ensure geographical balance,” Salceda said.
EFAST vouchers can only be assigned to a tertiary institution accredited by the Provincial Education Department and is good only for the 1st semester of SY 2011-2012.
He, however, said that the provincial government will exercise best-efforts to secure funding for future assistance. The new program has essentially compelled further cutbacks in other programs.
He said during his term as Congressman of the 3rd district of Albay, his congressional scholarships beginning in 1999, have benefitted some 87,000 college or post-secondary students. (PNA)