EDUCATION. One word that’s powerful enough to spur parents to seek greener pastures abroad so they can provide their children with this valuable investment. As Filipinos, the culture of education is deeply ingrained in our society. It is the dream of every parent that all of their children become degree holders, and if possible, from prestigious educational institutions. Filipino migrant workers are no different. They, too, are driven by this dream of providing quality education for all their children.
It is in this context that the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration provides support for our OFWs’ aspirations for quality education for their children. Through the Education for Development Scholarship Program (EDSP), the OWWA gives a scholarship grant to any four- or five-year course in any college or university, with a P60,000 maximum annual financial assistance.
In order to qualify, applicants can take an entrance examination administered by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). The first 200 top passers get the chance to go to college on a scholarship grant.
The OWWA has also the “ODSP,” or the OFW Dependent Scholarship Program, which gives qualified scholars financial assistance of P20,000 per year. This program is open to the children of migrant workers receiving a salary of US$400.
Even children of OFWs who have passed away can be accommodated in the OWWA educational programs. With the Education and Livelihood Assistance Program (ELAP), the heirs of our members are supported from primary education until they graduate from college. Why? Because OWWA understands the innermost desire of each OFW parent to see their children receive their diplomas.
OWWA believes that by supporting the desire of our client OFWs to provide a better education for their kids, we are helping our migrant workers achieve their dreams for their children and families.
This is the reason why OWWA has been recognizing exceptional OWWA scholars for the past years. Their hard work and dedication should serve as an inspiration to other OFW families. Fifty-one OWWA scholars/achievers for 2016 will be given recognition this year. They are the ones that graduated with Latin honors or landed among the Top 10 in their respective licensure examinations. During the 2015 recognition-cum-press conference, 25 scholars were recognized by OWWA for their scholastic achievements.
OWWA’s “Iscor and Iska” (short for ‘iskolar ng bayan’ by gender) continue to be the pride and joy of their fathers and mothers. Fueled by the sacrifice of their OFW parents, they have not only achieved their parents’ goals but also exceeded their expectations.
But it doesn’t stop there. OWWA also conducts various activities to complement the scholarship program. The OWWA Regional Welfare Offices conduct outreach programs, summer camps, seminars, etc., just to name a few. These activities, which likewise serve as motivational exercises, enables our scholars to share their experiences with their fellow scholars, and expand their academic and social network beyond the confines of their schools. This allows them to interact and engage with fellow OFW families.
This year, the OWWA plans to stage the first ever OWWA Scholar Conference and Recognition where scholars from all over the Philippines will convene for a three-day seminar. In this conference, the migration issue will be tackled, and views and comments will be elicited from the participants using creative mediums. This will be a venue for OWWA’s program beneficiaries to meet their counterparts from different regions, with certain scholars being tasked to take on the role of “big brother” or “big sister.”
One of our success stories is Don Stanley C. Dalisay, an OWWA “baby” who will be vacationing from West Point, New York, this coming May. Don Stanley was an EDSP beneficiary, and in a way, OWWA opened the doors for this young man. It was a big deal for OWWA when Don Stanley was admitted to the United States Military Academy at West Point, and he credits OWWA’s role in his extraordinary educational journey.
As you can see, OWWA is not all about repatriation, welfare cases, case management, and the like. Our agency has other programs that complement the need of its OFW clients like reintegration and education. Behind the rare scenes of tragedy and despair on late night TV are the numerous success stories of our OFW scholars.
As education is one of the primary reasons why our OFWs choose to face the difficulties of working abroad, OWWA seeks to support their aspirations by coming up with programs that will help with the educational needs of their children. After all, “welfare” is not just about addressing the needs of OFWs themselves but also the families they left behind in the Philippines.