‘Shotgun’ scholarship grant waste of Public funds PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 11 September 2015 11:46

Table Talk

BY Mike S Apostol

When someone is enrolled in college as an academic scholar, normally, that someone is academically intelligent with high grading marks in high school, a consistent honor student or someone who works with the school without being paid a salary, but the school gives that someone a college education for free. They are also called “ service scholars”, but,  with a strict condition and requirement that, at least, they should maintain a cumulative grade of 85 percent average or lose their scholarships if they go lower. Institutional scholarship grants from a banking institution is much more stricter, the requirements for scholarship are hard to produce and once you are taken, you have to maintain an above average grade in all subjects otherwise your scholarship is terminated without further explanation. All other scholarships from civic organizations and foundations, non-government organizations, foreign grants apply the same requirements and conditions. But not in the case of the much ballyhooed 4 P’s scholarship program of the government through the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the only requirement is you must come from an extremely poor Filipino family, certified by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), where sometimes this certification is tainted with anomaly and suspicion, that sons and daughters of landlords and businessmen are included as scholars, and the only condition as a 4 P’s scholar is, just pass the subject without a grade ceiling and your school tuition fee is paid by the government with a monthly stipend (allowance). The intention of the government is excellent in giving free education and assistance to poor students and families,  but,how some of these poor beneficiaries reciprocate on the benevolence of government is absurd. They rely on the grant and windfall like an obligation of government. Many times leaving their former livelihoods and farms and wait for their monthly government subsidy, through cash transfers (ATM) that oftentimes are loaned to “loan sharks”.

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4 P’s scholars are also noted to buy cellphones and i-pods instead of books and other school needs, when their allowances arrive. This is something for the record because their monthly stipend does not serve its purpose in alleviating the plight of their parents in school requirements and daily transportation expenses. We sympathize  with them for this “culture shock”, but at least they should give more attention to their grant and strive a little harder to obtain higher grades than the required passing grade of 75 percent to be considered in the future for any challenging government position and also to give consolation to the taxpaying public that “foot” the bill for their scholarships.

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What is lamentable is that the CHED is tolerating the bad example of  4 P’s scholars by even sending memorandum to government schools where 4 P’s are enrolled to advise school instructors to be “lenient” with 4 P’s scholars, just like telling the teachers “don’t give failing grades to 4 P’s scholars, give them passing marks” so they may continue to be government scholars. Table Talk was once a  part time college professor and I never hesitate to fail an undeserving student because if I give them a passing mark and on the next level of year, the leniency will reflect on the teacher and the school. You convert the school into a diploma mill and not an institution of learning.

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In a casual conversation with a college professor in one of the government colleges, he said “ the pressure is now on the teachers and not on the scholars”. I knew he was a full time academic scholar during his college days in one of our high standard schools and he admits he spent sleepless nights studying his lesson to maintain his grades. At one point, during those college days,  the dean of his college called him to his office and warned that he lacks 2 points to get the average 85 percent. The dean said make up to get the 85 percent or you will be “kicked out” of the school. He felt like crying and would like to end his life because of the pressure, but he persevered and graduated at the top of his class. Now his school has 4 P’s scholars and the government advised them to be lenient with this 4 P’s scholars. “Where are we going, sir”? with this kind of policy.  I answered just do your job in teaching  and let the CHED or government be answerable for the consequences in the future.

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It is not surprising that we still hear of stories that some college students who cannot read and pronounce words properly. This is alarming and to think we earned the name of the “only English-speaking country in Asia”. Perhaps in a few years we will lose that credit and retain only the “most corrupt nation in Asia”. From bad to worse or from the “frying pan to the “fire”.

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Scoop: The national government must review this 4 P’s program and what has it achieved in terms of poverty alleviation. It has been many years in service but we still see many poverty stricken families, wallowing in misery and hardship. Some poor families are even having more problems because of the 4 P’s program. They abandoned their former livelihoods and farm , they have nothing to eat because they just rely on the 4 P’s monthly subsidy. 4 P’s made them lazy and became additional burden to social budgets of local government in the country. You may agree or disagree but try to see the countryside and notice that few are seen tilling the farm and more families are seen playing and gambling during the day.