Free scholarship for IP opened
(The Freeman) - February 19, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) is offering a P9-billion scholarship program for the indigenous people (IP) in the Visayas.

In a bid to promote involvement and employment among the IP, the National Integration Scholarship (NIS) program was launched yesterday in a hotel in Cebu City.

This is part of TESDA's expanded services and programs for IP, who are considered among the poorest and the most disadvantaged social groups in the country.

Darrel Honoracio of the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) said 28 million IP, including native Muslims, represent nearly 27 percent of the country's population, which is 105,377,586 as of last year.

Last year, TESDA and the NCIP have forged a partnership to empower the IP through technical education and skills development.

TESDA Secretary Guiling "Gene" Mamondiong, who led the NIS launching, said there is a need to recalibrate government programs for a holistic engagement of the IP in nation building.

"Sila po ay nabayaan ng panahon kaya ang gusto ng ating pangulo ay mabigyang diin ang kanilang integration into the social, economical and political mainstream of our society," he said.

He said at least 70 percent of the Communist Party of the Philippines New People's Army (CPP-NPA) combatants are from the IP communities.

The IP, he said, become vulnerable to recruitment because the government and the people may have forgotten them.

He said the NIS seeks to empower the vulnerable sector of the community and equip them with skills for their livelihood.

He said these beneficiaries will be given liberty to choose what course they want to enroll in to depending on their line of interest.

He said the scholars will not only be given free tuition but also transportation and food allowances to motivate them to enroll.

The identification of these beneficiaries will be certified by the NCIP to ensure their legitimacy.

Should they complete their training, Mamondiong assured that they will also assist them in looking for employment opportunities as well as in starting their own business.

Mamondiong said one of the most in-demand jobs nowadays is in the construction industry.

In fact, he said TESDA has already started training 100,000 construction workers all over the country.

For his part, Felicito Asamsa, 51, a resident of Barangay Mambaling in Cebu City and the chieftain of Sama Badjao Community in Cebu, said the scholarship program might lessen the number of Badjao beggars in the streets.

"Hinaot makahapnay sa mga Badjao aron di na sila magstambay anang mga dalan aron mangayog kwarta. Uban ana nila migrants ra man pod," he said.

"Nagpasalamat mi nga gitagaan mi og importansyang mga IPs diri sa Region 7 aron makaskwela ang mga miyembro sulod sa komunidad. Mahatagan og skills training para sa ilang kaugmaon," he added.

He also appealed to the public to stop the discrimination against the IP, including Badjaos.

"Naa gyod na ilang pagdiscriminate sa mga Badjao nga tao man unta na sila gihapon. Ubos kaayo ilang panan-aw ba, sila unta nga edukado na, ila unta nang isipon nga tao ra sad na sama nila," he said.

Under the 1987 Constitution, the state recognizes and promotes the rights of indigenous cultural communities within the framework of national unity and development. (FREEMAN)

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