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Rough Cuts | The time is ripe for this idea

During City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio’s State-of-the-City-Address (SOCA) the other Monday she reported that thousands of Davaoenos, including members of the indigenous community, are already enrolled in different colleges and universities in Davao to pursue college degrees.

The Mayor was in fact ecstatic in announcing that three indigenous people (IPs) or Lumads have already completed a degree in medicine under the city’s scholarship program. And she went on to say that there are many more who are now professionals after completing their college courses with the support of the city government.

While we did not hear from the city mayor how much exactly is the total annual cost of the scholarship program, we are certain that based on the number of beneficiaries, the figure could be substantial.

Considering the success of the program in providing the disadvantaged sector of the population the opportunity to acquire education, we can be certain it is likely to stay and expand even after the administration of Mayor Sara.

This brings back to mind a very long hatched idea by some councilors brought up as early as the 1980’s. The idea was, as far as we could remember, hatched up by then councilor Diosdado Mahipus Sr. who was a member of the City Legislative body representing the Kabataang Barangay.

His idea was for the city to establish its own college so that deserving Davaoenos who could not afford the high cost of education offered by private schools, can enroll to get a degree.

Per our recollection of events, the idea just evolved into a proposal which did not even reach the Council Committee level for preliminary discussion. Primarily, it was because during that time Davao City did not have the financial capability to foot the operation of a college. And its officials then were not certain as to its economic direction. The country was, at that time, under the Marcos martial law regime and the communist insurgency was only starting to heat up in the city.

Today however, Davao is a very far different city economically and politically. And it has already produced the first ever President of the republic in its long-time former mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Also, the city’s natural resources, ideal climate, good infrastructure in roads, sea and airports, and stable services in power, water and communications, have become magnate to local (Filipino) and foreign investors. All these have pushed Davao City’s economy into a new level of vibrancy. Consequently, the city’s coffers become full to the brim and even flow over. That is why we would not be surprised if by 2020 the city will have a budget of about P10 billion.

Based on the monthly Report of Revenue and Disbursements by the City Treasurer’s Office, collections consistently outpace expenditures. And over the past years under the administration of the Dutertes, surplus had been reported every end of the fiscal year.

On these premises we believe that Davao City is now capable of operating its own college complete with all the amenities of a school that can provide the best education it can offer to its deserving constituents.

Maybe, this cent’s worth of ideas of ours may not be too much to consider. That is, to ensure that the college can sustain its operation the city can tie up with the national government and take advantage of the law mandating free college education. The city provides the infrastructure and facilities, the equipment for laboratories and related educational aids, hires the teachers and other non-teaching personnel. The local government can also work out an arrangement with the national government for a sharing in subsidizing the cost of tuition. Books and other learning materials can be the counterpart of the students.

Moreover, the city can develop a policy for the college to limit the number of students it will accept every school year.

Above all, it has to learn to say no to applicants for enrollment submitting recommendations or endorsements from political leaders if the students being desired for are really those deserving in its real sense of the word.

Now we are throwing this challenge to the chair of the City Council Committee on Education. Isn’t it time to resurrect that idea and start fleshing it out so it can be presented again as a proposed ordinance?

We have no doubt it will be a very welcome initiative.

And we would not believe the city with multi-billion pesos in annual income cannot do it. After all, a relatively small town in Cebu – Cordova – in the historic island of Mactan, has been operating its own college and already graduated so many students from its fold.

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