“Hindi naging hadlang ang pagiging batang ina ko para makapagtapos ako ng pag-aaral. Pinagsasabay ko ang pag-aalaga ng aking anak at ang pag-aaral ko. Napakahirap ng aking mga naging karanasan. Lait at pangungutya ang inabot ko sa ibang tao (Being a young mother did not hinder me from pursuing my education. I baby sit while studying. My experience is harsh. People insulted and mocked me),” shared Mary Grace who gave birth at the age of 18.

She reminded her fellow youth: “Pagtuonan ng pansin ang inyong pag-aaral. Isantabi muna ang pakikipagrelasyon (Focus on your studies. Set aside entering into a relationship).”      

Mary Grace is one of the 256 grantees of the Expanded Students’ Grants-in-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (ESGP-PA) at the Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University-North La Union Campus who attended the pilot implementation of the Youth Development Session (YDS) of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

Regional Program Management Office staff kicked off the YDS with discussions on Teenage Pregnancy and interactive activities such as reflection sessions, life planning, and role playing, among others.

The activity aims to decrease the dropout due to early pregnancy and to increase the number of ESGP-PA grantees and achievers.

Based on her experience in the YDS, Mary Grace testified that being a young mother is really tough since it is an unexpected occurrence at an early age; it is a reality that the youth must responsibly face and deal with.

YDS will be rolled out to the other State Universities and Colleges in the Region where ESGP-PA grantees are enrolled.

The ESGP-PA’s objective is to address poverty by increasing the number of graduates of higher education among poor households to create an opportunity for these graduates to be employed in value adding occupations to lift their families out of poverty while at the same time contributing to national development.

The program is implemented by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) in coordination with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC), and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). (by: Jaesem Ryan A. Gaces, Information Officer II/ Pantawid Pamilya)