LA TRINIDAD, Benguet: At least 40,000 students nationwide are set to be included in a list of scholars under the expanded Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program, which grants college scholarships to children of beneficiaries under the category poorest-of-the-poor.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) made the announcement this week when it presented its eight scholars under the expanded student grant in aid program for poverty alleviation, a component of the CCT, to the members of the media at Benguet State University (BSU) here.
The expanded student grant, which started in 2012 in coordination with the Commission on Higher Education (CHed), is given to those pre-selected by the DSWD from a pool of households under the CCT program who would pass entrance examinations of the accredited university for the program, in this case, BSU.
The CCT is the government’s flagship anti-poverty initiative that grants cash assistance to families from the poorest of the poor provided that they comply with certain conditions.
Among these conditions are pregnant women should avail of pre-natal and post-natal care and attended by a health professional during childbirth; parents must attend family development sessions; and children zero to five years old must receive regular preventive health check-ups and vaccines.
Also, children six to 14 years old must receive deworming pills twice a year and children must enrol in school and maintain a class attendance rate of at least 85 percent per month.
Parents are entitled to a P500 monthly cash grant, while each student would be given P300 (elementary school) and P500 (high school).
The government will then spend P60,000 per CCT college scholar in a year under the expanded grant aid program.
Of that amount, each scholar would receive P3,500 per month as stipend.
Aside from free college education, the scholarship includes initiatives that would help the students ease their way to college with summer bridging programs.
Other activities include guidance counseling, group work such as landscaping, management and leadership sessions, as well as academic coaching to prevent academic deficiencies and dropping out because of homesickness.
From 69 scholars in the first semester of academic year 2012 to 2013, the number of scholars of the program has increased to 456 for the current academic year.
“The CCT program initially covered elementary and high school students, but if we want to break the cycle of inter-generational poverty, we should invest in human capital and go for one college graduate per family,” said Eduard Gonzales, division chief of the CCT program.
Claudia Daligdig, a scholar who hails from Kalinga Apayao and travels 13 hours to get a college education, cannot help but heave a sigh of relief over such news announcement.
“I hope that the government will continue to do this because a lot of people need to be in college. We only have five high school teachers in our place. Can you believe that?” Daligdig, who is taking up Secondary Education, told The Manila Times.