The Aquino government is open to proposals to expand the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program to give children-beneficiaries the chance to finish high school.
Dr. Celia Reyes of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) had recommended the expansion of the educational grant of CCT or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) from 14 to 18 years old.
The present poverty reduction program covers children aged 0-14 or up to second year high school.
Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said on Thursday the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is in fact studying the expansion of CCT coverage.
Valte, however, refused to comment if the budget was taken up during the cabinet meeting last Tuesday .
President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Wednesday night approved a P2.268-trillion budget for 2014.
In a statement, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman recognized the importance of covering beneficiaries up to secondary level in the CCT program, citing its effects on the labor market by producing more educated and more skilled labor force.
“We recognize the contention of a lot of mothers and beneficiaries on the additional school expenses under the K-12 program,” Soliman said.
“The expansion of the program through high school would help poor families continue sending their children to school even with the additional levels,” she said.
Soliman said the the CCT “is not the only government program directed towards poverty reduction,” but it also “converged with other government programs that are anchored on job generation, livelihood, shelter, education, health, and agriculture.”
“The cash grant under the Pantawid Pamilya is like a salbabida [life preserver]to stabilize the situation of the poor, while investment on health and education is being done,” she said.
CATHERINE S. VALENTE