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Government helps Filipino students Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by LLOYDLUNA.com, Philippines Jun 2, 2004
Child & Youth Rights , Education   Opinions


Call it political gimmick but for the officials and employees of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Youth Affairs (OPAYA), the Student Assistance Fund for Education for a Strong Republic (SAFE 4 SR) is a legitimate government project that needs not to be taken aback by political colors. Presidential Assistant Dennis Cunanan, the Office head outs it this way: It’s purely business, “trabaho lang”.

SAFE 4 SR (Students’ Assistance Fund for a Strong Republic) is an interest-free student loan program of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo aims at providing assistance to a minimum of 100,000 needy 3rd, 4th, 5th and graduating college students through an easily accessible student loan, raising the number of Filipino graduates in priority courses as well as producing a top-caliber workforce in the country, addressing the problem on the increasing number of college drop-outs due to financial difficulties and encouraging Filipinos to get a college degree (and not be satisfied with an elementary or high school education).

The student loan can be used to cover tuition, books, course projects, thesis papers, board and lodging bills, graduation fees and other valid educational expenses.

Very young office established in January this year, OPAYA needed to build a team that is strong enough to face the challenges that lie ahead. With more than fifty young people working across the archipelago on the implementation of the Scholarship Program, they decided to sail down to Cebu City for a team building, program assessment and planning.

There were couples of activities that prompted the team building activity of the group. Junior Chamber International Philippines (JCI) Sen. Ismael Penado and his colleague facilitated the group dynamics.

“For a team that is newly started, it is really necessary to come up with this kind of camaraderie building. Otherwise, the group will be able to achieve greater heights,” the organizers put it.

The team building included transforming vision to 3D presentation that impelled sense of ownership to each group’s work of art.

Youthful as they really are, OPAYA works seriously while enjoying the tasks assigned to them. For them, each and every one plays separate roles in a well-coordinated way. Understanding the essence of a team, each team player sees to it that while working independently but with coordination while adhering to their lone vision, mission, goals and objectives.

For them serving the youth sector, primarily the students who are financially challenge to finish tertiary education, is a noble task that needs to be taken seriously but with a smile in their hearts.

Recurrently, OPAYA is seen as institution built for political motive of PGMA Administration. And for the team that the only dream is to reach the Filipino students and espouse them “to get that diploma”, false accusation somehow becomes a barrier that hinders their potentials to achieve greater heights.

In a collaborative statement, OPAYA believes that: Those who see the project as political strategy don’t know what they say or maybe acknowledge only their welfare for they see opportunities in turning the project down—a thing that encumbers the government’s initiative to better educational system.

Why now, according to them is as simple it is only now that the government can appropriate funding for it and the President sees that the excess funding would be a great help for the students.

Behind political atmosphere, OPAYA continues to find ways to develop their services to the sector. Aside from SAFE 4 SR, they plan to implement other programs that the youth themselves identify.

Particularly this summer onwards, the newly born office plans to espouse the entire sector that includes out of school youth, working youth, and youth with special needs. What the youth programs in the grassroots level make out are the programs that are to be implemented by the office.

While there are few financially stable students who don’t care on the program anymore, majority of the students in over 1, 000 colleges and universities across the archipelago say that the program is an indication that the government is working for the welfare of the youth.



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Writer Profile

Lloyd A. Luna graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Electronics and Communications Engineering from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in 2004. In 2001, he established the Network of Campus Journalists of the Philippines (NCJP). Fuelled by a passion for journalism, he was recognized by the Catholic Mass Media Awards in 2002 and now writes for the three biggest national daily newspapers in the country (The Manila BULLETIN, The Philippine Daily INQUIRER and the Manila TIMES). At 21, he was awarded the Presidential Leadership Medal, the highest award given by the President of the Republic of the Philippines. He also works now as the Presidential Technical Assistant in the Office of the President in Malaca
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