Press Release
November 16, 2009


Mindful of the need to tap workers' skills and improve their standing in the labor pool, Sen. Edgardo J. Angara is urging Congress to enact an advanced studies development program for qualified employees of the government and the private sector.

Angara aims to increase the country's highly trained leaders for the industry, research and the academe; a critical mass of elite professionals to lead in harnessing science, technology and related disciplines towards accelerating productivity in the domestic workforce.

"Many Filipinos have acquired advanced degrees and specialized training abroad through scholarships grants either of local or foreign funding. These scholarships have produced a many high-level professionals. But many of these scholars have not found opportunities to maximize their newly acquired knowledge and training here. In effect, they stay overseas or leave the country again in search of greener pastures abroad," noted Angara, former President of the University of the Philippines.

Angara proposes that under the CHED there be a fellowship program for Filipinos employed in the government and the private sectors and those who are self-employed. The program will form a consortium of fellowships, scholarships and training grants sponsored or extended by foreign governments and agencies and local agencies and organizations, public or private, for advanced studies in international centers of advanced learning, scholarship and research.

Professionals in the private and government sector aged 30-40 can undertake advanced studies and fellowships in any branch of science, technology or related fields to their expertise and experience. Upon embarking on their studies abroad, they will be entitled to a one-year leave with pay, including allowances and other benefits; one economy round-trip air fare to and from the host country plus other travel expenses required for foreign travel; clothing allowance; monthly stipend while on study abroad; allowance for books, instruction materials and research allowance; and health, travel and insurance fees.

The fellow will be required to return to his job or in another capacity and serve on a full-time basis for a minimum period of time. In addition, the scholar will be required to hold seminars or training sessions for government and the private sector employees on topics related to the course or training completed.

Among the more notable grants abroad are the Fulbright Scholarship (US) and the Erasmus Mundus (EU); with several universities around the world and international organizations offering their own grants. Many of the scholarships they offer are fully-funded and provide for a large sum of monthly stipend. But most of them do not require a return-of-service scheme.

Such trend poses a threat of a brain drain in developing and mid-income countries because these universities usually have partner organizations, or even the sponsoring organization themselves, offering internship and employment opportunities after the students complete their studies. In the end, they do not return to their home countries and instead stay in their host countries to take on jobs where their credentials are given more value and are compensated better.

"Let's motivate our employees to take on higher learning and return to the country so we can harness their skills and experiences for their benefit for their colleagues, too. At a larger scale, not only are they learning; they will be bringing in fresher insights that will lead to better productivity in our workforce" Angara concluded.

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