DAVAO CITY -A total of 503 Students Grant-in-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (SGP-PA) grantees graduate this year in Davao Region.

Davao del Norte has a total of 168 graduates; Davao Oriental has 209; Davao City has 33; Davao del Sur has 25; and Davao Occidental has 68 graduates.

To recognize these Pantawid scholars, a regional graduation ceremony dubbed Social Investiture for National Achievers of Grants-In-Aid (SINAG) is set on May 6, Friday in Tagum City.

“A partnership of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the SGP-PA started in 2012 with only 4,000 grantees nationwide. Now, it has over 40,000 college grantees all over the country,” shared DSWD Assistant Regional Director for Operations Rebecca A. Santamaria.

SGP-PA helps in increasing the number of graduates in higher education among Pantawid households and get these graduates employed in high-value added jobs in order to lift their families out of poverty, Santamaria added.

During the recent Commencement Exercise held at Davao del Norte State College in Panabo City, Davao del Norte, guest speaker CHED Chairperson Dr. Patricia Licuanan challenged the SGP-PA graduates to be ‘leaders of change and to work with renewed combination of factors and concepts, creatively combine change and continuity, and wield bridges between people who see things differently.’

She also urged the graduates to get involved and make a difference. Despite challenges and disappointments, she encouraged them to always be a voice of hope.

The primary objective of SGP-PA is to ensure that grantees are enrolled in State Universities and Colleges duly recognized by CHED. General requirements for eligible SGP-PA applicants are: (1) must be a Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary; (2) should be a high school graduate and/or equivalent; (3) no other higher education scholarship/grant from public institutions; and (4) pass the entrance exam and academic requirements set by the SUCs.

A student-grantee shall be entitled to a maximum of P 60,000.00 scholarship grant per school year, which is broken down to P 20, 000/year Tuition Fee Cost, P 5,000/year Textbook Fees and other learning materials and P 35,000 (that is, P 3,500/month x 10 months) Stipend (for board and lodging, transportation, clothing, health/medical needs, basic school supplies and other related costs).

Pantawid Pamilya is a poverty-reduction strategy of the national government that incentivizes families to keep children healthy and in school. The program has a total of 234,622 registered households in Davao Region as of March 2016. (DSWD)