At its annual general meeting held last 15 May and in subsequent meetings of its Executive Board, newly elected PACES President Dr. Jane Gerardo-Abaya led the members and officers in conceptualizing plans for the coming year. These include a relaunch and expansion of the organization’s educational support for Filipino students.

(Above: Incoming President Dr. Jane Gerardo-Abaya presenting plans at the annual general meeting, photo courtesy of Kristine Camille Cruz, Phil. Embassy.)

Each year since it was founded, PACES, with the help of its Philippine partner CFC ANCOP, has been supporting Filipino students taking up science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) college degree programs in the Philippines. To date, eight scholars have obtained their Bachelor of Science degrees in Engineering, Computer Science, Information Technology, and Industrial Technology. Several of the Engineering graduates also successfully passed the government licensure exam in their respective fields to become full fledged engineers.

PACES STEM Scholarships for Universities

The annual general meeting resolved to begin fund raising activities in order to relaunch the PACES STEM Scholarship program by August 2024. The PACES STEM Scholarships support outstanding but financially needy students in Philippine state universities and colleges who are enrolled in undergraduate courses leading to a Bachelor of Science degree in selected STEM degree programs. Scholars receive full financial support including 100% tuition and school fees, an outright grant of PHP 10,000 annually for textbooks, school supplies and uniforms, and an allowance of PHP 6,000 per month for daily expenses. A STEM scholarship is valued at EUR 1,500 per year. The organization needs to step up its fund raising efforts to raise the money needed for the scholarships.

PACES STEM scholars must be Filipino citizens enrolled in the 3rd to 5th years of a Philippine state university, between 17 to 25 years old, coming from a family with total annual gross income of PHP 300,000, and with a weighted grade point average of 2.0 or higher (with 1.0 as the highest grade). Scholars will be required to maintain the grade requirement until they graduate, and must work full-time in the Philippines after graduation for a period of one year for every year of financial support received.

TVET Vocational Training

PACES also resolved during the annual general meeting to fund three (3) TVET scholars. The Executive Board subsequently decided to increase this number subject to availability of funds.

This Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) was developed by CFC ANCOP in partnership with different skills training institutes in the Philippines. Open to high school graduates, the program is aimed at up-skilling and honing the capabilities of Filipinos in the marginalized sectors of society for livelihood opportunities in building and construction projects. The initial set of training programs to be supported include Diesel/Gas Mechanic, Shielded Metal Arc Welding, Electrical Installation and Maintenance, and Domestic Refrigeration and Air conditioning. The training can be completed in three semesters at a total cost of PHP 90,000 (less than EUR 1,500 at current exchange rates) that includes the tuition and school fees as well as living expenses for the trainee. Pledges are already arriving promising support for trainees in this year.

Vice-President Internal Priscila Confiado explaining the TVET training concept at the annual general meeting.
(Photo: Kristine Camille Cruz, Phil. Embassy)

The Philippine-Austrian Cultural and Educational Society (Philippinisch-Österreichische Kultur- und Bildungsgesellschaft as it is officially registered in Vienna) was founded in May 2016 in Vienna, Austria as a non-profit association of civic-minded members of the Philippine and Austrian communities in Austria. PACES has the twin goals of promoting the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as a vehicle for Philippine development and progress, and of nurturing and promoting the synergies that exist between these two nations.

— By Dr. Efren Abaya