DA to students: Apply for agri scholarships
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) urged agriculture students to avail of the scholarships provided under the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF), despite reports of mismanaged funds.
Undersecretary for Special Concerns Ranibai Dilangalen said the DA continues to allocate 10% of the fund to providing scholarship grants to agricultural students and children of farmers and fisher folks.
Dilangalen emphasized that aside from free education, ACEF scholars will be a priority in the employment in DA and its attached agencies.
“Let us promote the study of agriculture and fisheries so that we can contribute to the economy,” she said in Filipino, noting that there are free slots to fill in the program for this year.
A recent Commission on Audit (COA) report revealed that only 9 out of 4,535 scholars from 2009 to 2015 were left under the ACEF program, despite continuing to receive up to P130.57 million in 2015.
"In 2015, the number of scholars released with fund of 4,535 drastically decreased ranging from 36% to 99%," state auditors said in a report released in late July. Their findings showed that the complications of the application process and the delay in the release of the funds discouraged the applicants.
COA recommended the DA to overhaul the scholarship program to expedite the processing of applications and the release of stipends.
Transfer to CHED
Dilangalen, however, pointed out that the scholarship component of the fund will now be under the supervision of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), based on a law enacted this February.
Republic Act 10848 extended the implementation of the ACEF up to 2022 and transfered the program to CHED.
Started in 1996, the program is implemented in State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) and private schools that offer courses in agriculture, fisheries, forestry, and other related studies.
Scholars under ACEF are provided a monthly allowance of P1,000 and a thesis writing stipend of P5,000, on top of tuition and miscellaneous expenses for the entire 4 years in college. – Rappler.com