Tarlac State University officials formally welcomed the scholars under the Complementary Pathways (CPath) programme of the Philippine Government, as supported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), with a simple program at the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs on August 25, 2023.
The CPath is a safe way for refugees to be welcomed for a lawful stay in a third country and address their international protection needs.
TSU is the first state university in the country to sign a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Justice through the Refugees and Stateless Persons Protection Unit and UNHCR to participate in the program.
The CPath scholars will have the chance to better their lives at TSU as students, where they are now enrolled as first-years in their desired programs.
Moreover, TSU will provide the scholars with access to healthcare and other essential services, and the opportunity to live a normal life in an inclusive space through free accommodation within the university premises.
They will stay at TSU for four years or until they finish their bachelor's degrees and may choose to remain in the Philippines to pursue their careers.
The TSU School of Law, headed by SOL dean Dr. Jose I. Dela Rama Jr., awarded each CPath scholar a financial assistance of 10,000 pesos to help with their expenses, like transportation and food.
The scholars are also funded by philanthropists within the Asia Philanthropy Circle who hope the CPath programme will inspire other countries in the region to adopt similar initiatives for deserving CPath scholars.
One of the CPath scholars shared that he is grateful to be granted a college scholarship, stressing that this is the first chance for someone from their tribe to enroll in a tertiary school.
He added that his father is supportive of his studies and often communicates with him.
"We also have the same situation (in our country). Something new is the college life. I've never been to college life, and the people (at TSU) are very friendly. They are very kind. They don't mind helping, especially my classmates; they don't mind lending a helping hand, so that's already one thing I love about the Philippines,” the CPath scholar said in an interview.
The second batch of CPath scholars, whose families were forcibly driven away due to violence and persecution in Myanmar in 2017, arrived in the Philippines on August 22, 2023, according to the UNHCR Philippines Facebook page.
Aside from TSU, other CPath scholars are hosted by several Philippine universities and colleges in the Philippines. (jlmm-OPA/UNHCR/DOJ/APC)