In response to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s directive in his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) to augment the education expenses of dependents of Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) returnees, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) embarked on the development of the proposed Tertiary Education Scholarship Grants under the CHED-Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST).
An exploratory meeting with DOLE Assistant Secretary Dominique Rubia-Tutay and CHED OIC-Executive Director Ryan Estevez was conducted on 20 August 2020 to discuss the proposed Guidelines on the implementation of the Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) program for OFW dependents for A.Y. 2020-2021. This was followed by the UniFAST Board approval of Php1.0 Billion Scholarship fund for the program on 28 August 2020.
Both CHED and DOLE expressed their eagerness in responding to the President’s directive as recognizing the contribution of OFWs to the country’s development. The grant provides an avenue for both the OFW and their dependents to recover from the unforeseen impacts of the pandemic.
To date, more than 182,000 OFWs have returned home, with no guarantee of their redeployment within the year. As of 8 August 2020, the DOLE and OWWA has generated an initial list of returning OFWs and their dependents which could serve as a basis for identifying beneficiaries for the grant. While the proposed Guidelines is being finalized for approval of the UniFAST Board and the CHED En Banc, the DOLE shall continue to provide updated profiles of returning OFWs and other relevant information to the Commission.