LAOAG CITY — The Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) in the year 2015 provided a total of 1,919 scholarship grants for students in order to promote quality education and more opportunities for the Ilocano youth.

In academic year 2014-2015, there were 459 recipients of the Sirib Academic Scholarship, according to the Provincial Education Office.

In the following school year, this number more than tripled with a total of 1,460 students benefiting from the Sirib Academic Scholarship or the Sirib Community Leaders Scholarship.

Scholarship programs pave the way for training youth leaders, particularly through involvement in the Sirib Ilokano Kabataan Association (SIKA) which promotes volunteerism among youth to work together for the development of their respective communities.

Aside from free tuition and stipends, students who possess a Sirib discount card can enjoy discounts from Baker’s Percent Bakeshop and City Cup Café.

Since 2010, the PGIN has shouldered over 39,000 elementary, 16,000 high school, and 3,000 college scholarships.

Widening opportunities for learning has been an aim of Governor Imee Marcos, reflected in her vision for Ilocos Norte as a learning hub and learning community, hence the establishment of the “Heroes Walk” at Ablan Avenue to educate passersby on Ilocano heroes’ heritage.

Access to information technology is also a vital part of this goal, and in the past year alone, 38 i-Hubs have been established and 650 computer units have been distributed throughout the different cities and municipalities.

Making education more inclusive is line with the province’s aim to alleviate poverty and eliminate unemployment, translating into a higher human development index and sustainable livelihoods for all Ilocanos.

These endeavors also drive PGIN forward in attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), a United Nations initiative established in the year 2000.

Feeling accomplished, the governor reported “We have done what we set out to do, exceeding poverty, employment, education, maternal health, and reforestation. From the alarming increase in poverty in 2010, poverty has now fallen to a record of 8.4%.”

The eight-fold MDG concern not only universal primary education and extreme poverty, but also gender equality, mortality, maternal health, HIV/AIDS and other diseases, environmental sustainability, and global partnerships for development. PNA/