Lay org pushes scholarship program for inmates’ children

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MANILA, March 17, 2014 – The Education Foundation Inc. (EFI), a group of laypeople whose apostolate centers on helping Catholics strengthen their faith and improve their lives through education, goes all out on a scholarship program especially for children of prisoners.

Known as Binhi ng Pagasa (Seed of Hope), the scholarship program provides children of inmates with free education, hoping that through it these unfortunate young people will be able to pursue their dreams, EFI President Naomi David said in a recent interview.

“These children, if encouraged to finish school, can have a better life,” she said. Some of these young people are isolated, not only from either of their parents, but from both and society as a whole by the state for reason of justice. The scholarship program prioritizes the most unfortunate children of prisoners, who serve their sentence in the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) in Muntinlupa City and the Correctional Institute for Women (CIW) in Mandaluyong City, David said.

The foundation imposes no tight rules on Binhi ng Pagasa scholars in terms of grades, David said. Their scholars are simply asked to get passing grades, and that is what matters to the laypeople who run it.

“Only 4 years since the scholarship program was started, the EFI has already graduated 4,” she said. According to David, one finished Education and passed the Professional Regulatory Commission’s (PRC) Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) and is working already. David recalled how this particular inmate child was eating potato chips only for lunch and dinner when she met her and how she valued so much and took extra care of a donated pair of leather shoes.

The EFI also has a graduate of a two-year course who used to “live literally in a pigpen” when she worked in a piggery, David said. She started as a trainee in a network of restaurants, which eventually hired her as a regular employee.

The manager of the outlet liked how she worked and recommended her to the company, which also happens to have a scholarship program for deserving employees. The company eventually awarded her another scholarship, this time, for a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. Her younger sibling is currently finishing school as a scholar of the EFI under the same scholarship program.

The foundation assists children of inmates finish their studies through charitable individuals and groups, both domestic and foreign, who support its advocacy, David said.

The Binhi ng Pagasa scholar is sent to school by a particular person or a group of individuals who singlehandedly sponsors his studies and not by a pooled fund raised together by different donors.

The scholarship program, not only aims to help the unfortunate children of inmates finish school and pursue their dream, but also to form them into better Catholics. “This is not only a scholarship,” David said. “Every month, they gather for formation, which includes catechism and how to be good persons.” (Oliver Samson)

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