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COA: 115 Pisay scholars must pay gov’t P19M for not taking science courses

The Commission on Audit (COA) has recommended that the Philippine Science High School (PSHS) go after its graduates who breached their respective scholarship agreements when they decided not to pursue a college degree in the field of science and technology.  Managed by the Department of Science and Technology, the main  PSHS campus is in Quezon City while there are 16 regional campuses nationwide.

In its annual report for the PSHS System, COA pointed out that at least 115 Pisay scholars who graduated from Visayas and Mindanao campuses should be made to repay the government almost P19 million as a reimbursement for the scholarship benefits they received while in secondary. Divided equally, that means each of the 115 students must repay PSHS around P165,000.

COA stressed that the PSHS should be more explicit in mentioning in the scholarship agreement the legal actions that the school can take against the parents of students who decline to take science courses during college. This is in recognition of the fact that at present, PSHS “has limited means to impose sanctions should the scholars choose to ignore the terms of agreement since the contract itself did not provide remedies to enforce collection of the refundable amount.”

philippine science high school scholarship agreement

COA is asking PSHS to run after its errant scholars

In the meantime, COA also emphasized that it is imperative for the PSHS System to exert all efforts to make the parents and guardians of erring students pay their dues. “The receivables from defaulting scholars, if remained uncollected, deprives the government of funds that could had been used to finance the scholarship of those who are willing to pursue science courses or otherwise be utilized for other government priority programs and projects.”

COMMENTARY:

The government position is very understandable. After all, it is operating on a very limited budget. COA is right that money spent on someone who eventually didn’t pursue a science course could have been better spent on someone who truly loves the discipline. However, despite COA’s attempt to explain the issue in straight-forward terms, the issue at hand is definitely more complex than that.

1) Students’ inclinations can change over the years. I, for example, was very much into science during my elementary years. I wasn’t a Pisay student, but I belonged to my school’s special science section from 2nd to 4th year high school. However, my initial inclination toward the sciences disappeared when advanced chemistry and mathematical physics came into my life.  A mother of a Pisay graduate made this point in an anonymously-written op-ed for Rappler.com back in 2014.

2) COA said that the PSHS should specifically mention the legal options against errant scholars the moment they make them sign their respective agreements. The thing is, this will only be an effective deterrent if the PSHS can really file cases. Otherwise, it will be a useless provision.

Will they seriously consider taking to a court a student and his or her guardian for declining to take a science and technology course while in college? The Philippine legal system famously moves at a very slow pace. Every step of the way requires money: filing fees, lawyer fees, etc. And to think they’re only running after P165,000 per head! Seryoso kaya sila talaga?

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