TESDA gets P700M for scholarships

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:51:00 08/11/2010

MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III has committed to allocate some P700 million to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority’s scholarship program for 2011 even as the TESDA’s new leadership is pursuing an investigation into a supposed misuse of funds by its predecessor.

TESDA Director General Joel Villanueva said his agency secured the fund commitment from the President after budget discussions on Monday. He said Mr. Aquino expressed support to continue training the country’s unemployed in technical and vocational courses.

“From the start, tech-voc courses have been a priority, and the President recognized the role of tech-voc. He wouldn’t want TESDA to suffer with lack of funds just because of what happened before,” said Villanueva.

He was referring to the alleged fund misuse by the previous leadership, involving the purchase of P39-million in allegedly overpriced training tools and procurement of P73-million worth of computers and other IT products.

He canceled the purchases on his first day on the job.

Villanueva said he hoped to double the employment rate of TESDA scholars, noting the dismal 15 percent workforce absorption of its trainees.

Agency figures showed that of some 743,465 TESDA scholars in government training centers and partner schools from 2008 to 2009, only 113,710 got jobs after graduation.

Villanueva has ordered a special audit of some P5 billion in scholarships used from 2008 to 2009 amid reports that some of the money went to fly-by-night schools and ghost scholars. Tarra Quismundo

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