|EB Scholars - photo by GMA|
Eat Bulaga, a noon time television show in the Philippines, launched in 2009, “Eat, Bulaga! Excellent Student Awards or EBest Awards”, a scholarship aimed to help less fortunate elementary and high school students from different regions to continue on to their secondary and tertiary education. The program provided full scholarship, monthly allowances and cash assistance.
One of the students awarded worked in building construction so he can finish high school. It is not legal to hire child labor, worst of all, in construction. That boy graduated with honors and moved forward to a college education courtesy of Eat Bulaga.
Another student walked kilometers to get to school each day. Another one did home work by candlelight. At least one worked as a housemaid to finance her high school education. These are students who accumulated medals and awards for academic excellence despite the poor living condition and no clear hope of getting to college.
The scholars of Eat Bulaga, have earned their top grades without the best of school supplies, without owning a computer and not enough books but they make do by using the public library or borrowing books from better situated classmates. They managed their time between house chores, earning a living and school work.
In America, students are given cash incentives to finish high school. Otherwise they can get a GED, the General Educational Development tests when passed, provide certification of high school-level academic skills. Then, they can get a college loan, if they qualify, and pay the loan for decades after graduation.
Meanwhile, in the third world, a most maligned president, President Rodrigo Duterte, signed into a law in August 3, 2017, a bill granting free tuition and other fees for students in state universities and colleges, as well as local universities and colleges and technical-vocational institutions. “The president believed the benefits of the law outweighed the potential short-term budgetary challenges..” (www.reuters.com)
President Duterte's free college tuition investment will earn the country a return in all sorts of currencies. In 2013, an estimated 10.2 million people of Filipinos worked abroad. It is one of the largest number of migrant workers, scattered over 100 countries. They are called Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW). Those workers will remit their pay back to the Philippines by official and unofficial, including illegal channels. In 2011, remittances reached US$20.117 billion. Imagine what the numbers will be in four years or so, when all the current college students graduate and join the OFWs. Another positive effect of migrant workers is they bring home skills gained abroad and pave the way for the coming generations of Filipinos.