MANILA, Philippines – Education Secretary Leonor Briones opposes the proposal of National Youth Commission (NYC) Chairman Ronald Cardema to strip "rebellious students" of their government scholarships, saying it is academic standing which serves as basis for financial aid.
Briones – who herself was a scholar since high school – said it is not students' participation in certain activities which is looked at.
Part of an education, she added, is encouraging students to think critically about issues.
"It's very important to emphasize that the condition for keeping a scholarship is academic performance.... Being active in raising issues, questions, and so on and so forth, we might as well ask a great number of national leaders to refund the government for the time when they were scholars," Briones told reporters in a press conference on Wednesday, February 20.
"Sometimes a student's academic standing will be affected because they are doing many non-academic activities, but we do not remove the scholarship just because they are engaged in it," she added in a mix of English and Filipino.
WATCH: Briones says even in senior high school, students are encouraged to think critically. She reiterates that scholarships are awarded and maintained on the basis of good academic standing, not other activities @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/4e4rnah9fz — Sofia Tomacruz (@sofiatomacruz) February 20, 2019
What was the NYC's proposal? On Tuesday, February 19, Cardema asked President Rodrigo Duterte to issue an executive order removing the subsidy of "all rebellious anti-government scholars."
He specified students supposedly allied with the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People's Army, and National Democratic Front.
Cardema claimed there were incidents of students supposedly caught as armed rebels fighting against government forces.
Cardema, who was the leader of the Duterte Youth movement, also asked youth leaders nationwide to report these "rebellious students."
His proposal has been met with opposition from Malacañang itself, with Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo saying that joining rallies alone is not enough basis to revoke a student's scholarship.
Back in January, Cardema also asked Sangguniang Kabataan officials nationwide to "fight" leftist youth groups. (READ: 'Traitor to youth': Groups slam NYC chief's proposal vs 'anti-government' scholars) – Rappler.com