Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III has filed a bill to make the scholarship program available to all incoming students enrolled in science, technology, mathematics, and engineering courses in state universities and colleges (SUCs).
In a statement, Pimentel said he wanted to expand the coverage of the government’s science and technology (S&T) scholarship program to encourage poor but intelligent students to pursue higher education or training in their chosen field in the sciences.
He said it is a declared policy of the state to offer and promote the right of all citizens to affordable quality education and to ensure that education shall be accessible to all.
“The state shall also give priority to research and development, invention, innovation and their utilization. Thus, priority shall also be given to science, technology, mathematics, and engineering,” said Pimentel.
He said his new bill builds on the S&T program of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through its Science Education Institute (SEI) in Republic Act No. 7687 or the “Science and Technology Scholarship Act of 1994,” and in R.A. 10612, or the “Fast-Tracked S&T Scholarship Act of 2013.”
Pimentel said the proposed scholarship will be opened to Filipino students currently enrolled in any SUCs taking up priority S&T courses, and for the years following the availment of the program with a general weighted average (GWA) of 83 percent or better.
Scholars will also be entitled to an annual award for full-time study equal to the complete financial package of R.A. 7687 plus an award while matriculating in an approved program but shall not exceed five years from the time of availment of the program, he said.
Applicants, he said, must agree not to leave the country for work or residence abroad until the required return of service obligation has been rendered in full or until the amount equal to the full tuition and other school fees awarded the grantee if he or she was not covered by the scholarship program has been paid in full.
He said failure to comply with the terms of the service contract will result in the full payment of all award monies received within a specified time limit.
“The spouse, or in the absence thereof, parents or legal guardians, shall be sureties in case the grantee fails to make full repayment of the award monies,” said Pimentel.
The proposed scholarship program would be funded by this year’s appropriations of the SEI under the DOST. The SEI would be authorized to accept grants, contributions or donations from domestic and foreign sources.