1:00 -1:30       Registration

1:30 - 1:40       National Anthem/Invocation

1:40 - 1:50    Opening Remarks:

          President, Philippine Institute for Development Studies


"Review and Assessment of the Student Grants-in-Aid for Poverty Alleviation Program"

Senior Research Fellow, Philippine Institute for Development Studies
 3:45 - 4:00 Closing Remarks:
Director-General,  Congressional Policy Budget and Research Department



Review and Assessment of the Students Grants-in-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (SGP-PA)


The Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department (CPBRD) together with the Philippine Institute for Development Studies conducted a roundtable discussion to review and assess the Students Grants-In-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (SGP-PA) last November 23, 2016, Thurday, at the Office of the Speaker Social Hall.  PIDS President Dr Gilbert Llanto started off by emphasizing the importance of research findings in providing evidence for policymaking.

Dr. Aniceto Orbeta, Jr., PIDS Senior Research Fellow, presented his findings on the SGP-PA.  He started off by stating the Program objectives, as provided in CMO No. 09 S. 2012, Annex C, namely, (1) ‘poverty alleviation “through increase in the number of graduates in higher education among poor households” and (2) “get these graduates employed in high value added occupations.’’  The Program is geared towards the poor as certified by the Department of Social Work and Development-National Household Targeting System (DSWD-NHTS). 

SGP-PA is jointly implemented by the DSWD, Commission on Higher Education, Department of Labor and Employment and state universities and colleges.  Implementation started in Academic Year 2012-2013 covering 35 top regional SUCs and 4,041 beneficiaries.  It was later expanded (ESGP-PA) in AY 2014-2015 with 112 SUCs participating and 36,412 students benefiting from the Program.      

According to Dr. Orbeta, SGP-PA is a very special grants-in-aid program, as it targets the poor, but not all the poor. He further claims that this is the real students’ grants-in-aid program as it offers full financing to ensure the poor graduate from college.  State universities and colleges offer quality education, but their enrollment structure shows only 12% of students come from the bottom 20%. 

The study finds that entrance exam scores as a variable is positively correlated with academic performance in all subjects and that this is statistically significant.  This relationship did not change much even after socioeconomic factors were included in the model.  Dr. Orbeta argues that while the intention is to help the poor, entrance examination is a cost-effective way of assessing if they can finish their education.  This is important because finishing college is what will land them their jobs.  It is also an acknowledgement of the fact that university education is not for everyone.     

In a nutshell, the following points summarize the findings and policy implications of the research:

1.       With appropriate interventions, well-selected students with poor socio-economic background are able to perform as good as their peers.  The poor are greatly disadvantaged, but after the first year, they are able to cope.  Grantees were found to perform at par with or even better than their peers in the second year. 


2.       The importance of full financing in student financial assistance programs, particularly those intended for students from poor households. Partial financing never works for the poor, but only for the rich.  Helping the poor requires they are given the full cost of education, so that the students’ job is simply to study. 

3.      Entrance exam results are highly correlated with academic performance; hence need to be included as an eligibility requirement.  We are helping the poor through education.  Entrance examinations increase the students’ probability of finishing his program. 

4.     Importance of a well-thought out program monitoring data for rigorously assessing program features.  This is to have solid basis for decisions such as program expansion.     

The open forum centered on the requirements to participate in the Program.  First and foremost, the candidate to be able to meet the requirements of the SUC that they intend to enroll in, which include passing the entrance examination.  DSWD explained that it does not have the responsibility for the scholarship.  Instead, the Department of Budget and Management directs the fund to the SUCs which in turn provides the funds to the student-grantees.

Since the SGP-PA requires that applicants enroll in CHED priority degree programs, Davao Oriental Rep. Joel Mayo Almario raised the possibility of identifying priority programs on regional and provincial basis instead of on a national scale.  According to him, this is consistent with the goal of enabling beneficiaries to be gainfully employed or to become entrepreneurs, not just to send them to school.  He emphasized the difference between ‘priority’ and ‘mandatory’, thereby allowing the applicants flexibility to choose as a matter of preference, courses for which there is local demand, over ‘priority’ programs identified by CHED.  According to CHED, regional priorities were considered during the inter-agency deliberations based on information obtained from the regional development councils of every region.  

Cebu City Rep. Raul Del Mar expressed pessimism, apart from the honor students, about the ability of graduates from public schools to qualify for the Program. He also communicated his doubts about the poor’s ability to cope with academics, considering their limited resources.  He believes that the entry requirements of the program limit the number of poor that can be accepted to SGP-PA.  He requested Dr. Orbeta to study how the Program can further expand access to the poor.  Dr. Orbeta disclosed that SGP-PA was offered to as many as 900,000 eligible students in 2012.  However, only a few students applied, probably because those who did not apply are not confident about going to college.  Some prefer tech-voc training, which is not included in SGP-PA.  According to Dr. Orbeta, for those whose confidence for college education comes later in life, ladderized education program is an available option.  He further argues that not everyone wants to go through the rigors of college education, but instead prefer to manage their own businesses.  Therefore, while the existing system may not be perfect, it is able to identify candidates who want to go to college, especially that those who do not want higher education cannot be forced to apply.          


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