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MAPping the Future

Pass on the gift

01:57 AM May 04, 2015

There are many Filipinos who are fairly successful now in their careers here and abroad who received the gift of education, not from their parents, but from benefactors who believed that education is the best chance for the poor to rise out of poverty.

These benefactors include government agencies, corporations, foundations and individuals who thought it was right to support young and promising students as they go through higher educational institutions to pursue their dreams.

These benefactors give support in the form of scholarships (without even thinking of getting paid back), student loans (as in the case of study now, pay later schemes), study now and support a scholar later (a form of paying it forward), “Iskolar ng Bayan,” and other such modalities.

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But from among those who received such privileges over the past decades, how many have actually paid back their loans or have sponsored another scholar to pay it back?

I remember when I was in college, there was a scheme called “Study Now, Pay It Later.”

It was the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) that sponsored this program.

I was informed recently by one of its officers that repayment was only 3 percent. It means that 97 percent of those who availed themselves of the program did not even bother to pay it back.

Sad.

Maybe those people thought that since it was government money after all, there was no need to return it.

Of course, we also know that many scholarship programs are given without conditions for repayment. This would include those scholarships offered by the Department of Science and Technology, the Department of Agriculture, the Philippine Coconut Producers Federation, private schools, state colleges and universities.

This is one major reason why a number of these scholarship programs have ceased to exist. The moment budgets are used up, that’s the end of the project.

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Question then is, is there a way to make these scholarship programs sustainable?

I think there is. I got this idea from Heifer International’s “Passing on the Gifts” approach to effectively carry out its development work.

Heifer International started in the United States in the early 1950s and it is now present in many parts of the world, including the Philippines.

Partner families pass on the offspring of animals, knowledge and other gifts they received to other families in need. This way, it delivers more impact and sustains Heifer’s thrust to end hunger and poverty.

Through Passing on the Gifts, families become donors and equal partners in ending poverty and spreading the spirit of goodwill while creating more and more self-sufficient communities.

Passing on the Gifts is anchored on Heifer’s Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development which the organization applies and promotes through values-based holistic community development projects and activities.

Passing on the Gifts is more than just giving poor families the opportunity to become self-reliant. When they pass on the gifts, they become donors in their own right.

As they give gifts of hope, they gain back dignity and respect by becoming equal partners in development. As Passing on the Gifts continues, sustainability and self-reliance are assured.

Inspired by this model, the Foundations for People Development (FPD) launched its Filipino Education Fund in 2012. To date, close to 600 scholars have been benefited directly. The Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) has been our major partner. We also count on the help given by Philex Mining, DBP, Landbank of the Philippines, and MFI Foundation. In 2013, new scholarship grantors have joined us in the effort to provide education to those who need it most under the banner of Filipino Education Fund (formerly Filipino College Fund).

These include the following:

The Sapientes Milites Scholarship Foundation over the past 14 years has provided scholarships to dependents of military personnel and officers. It now counts close to 200 beneficiaries.

The Philippine Federation of Family Farm Schools, composed of nine schools, has given high school and postsecondary scholarships to children of poor farmers. To date, over 3,000 scholars have been given a chance to continue and finish their studies.

But we need more help to reach out to more beneficiaries. For those of you who have been scholars or beneficiaries of the Study Now, Pay Later program, isn’t it about time you pass on the gift to someone in need?

If you are interested to sponsor a student in any of these programs, please get in touch with me through my e-mail renegayo@gmail.com so I can provide you a link to the appropriate organization.

You may also donate any amount for this project that shall be pooled together to support scholars for these various partners.

You may visit the website of the FPD and simply click on the donation button. You may give your donation via bank debit or by using your credit card. Simply log on to www.fpdphils.org.

(This article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines. The author is a member of the MAP Agribusiness and Countryside Development Committee, the program manager for MAP’s Farm Business Schools Programs and the dean of the MFI Farm Business School. Feedback at mapsecretariat@map.org.ph and renegayo@gmail.com. For previous articles, please visit www.map.org.ph.)

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