OPLAN KAALAM (KNOWLEDGE) is an Educational Scholarship Program of Nograles and was first conceptualized by Congressman Karlo Nograles in May 2001 upon the election of Former Speaker of the House Prospero C. Nograles. Finding the need to put up a college scholarship for less fortunate but deserving students, Congressman Karlo Nograles instantly chose the University of Southeastern Philippines (USEP) in Barrio Obrero, Davao City, being the State University located within the congressional district of the Congressman. After coming into an agreement with university administrators, the Oplan Kaalam program was commenced.
In School Year 2002-2003, the Oplan Kaalam program sponsored its first batch of forty-seven (47) promising young students whose families could not afford to send their children to college.
The program was a success and instantly drew a lot of interest from other parents, students and even barangay officials. The result saw an intense development in the number of scholars to almost tenfold or exactly three hundred eight (308) scholars in School Year 2003-2004. The Oplan Kaalam program extended its scholarship even to students who are taking up a Master’s Degree and a Technical-Vocational course at the said university. As a result, in School Year 2005-06, the number of scholars increased to more than one thousand (1,000) scholars.
Since then, the program has perceived a steady growth in the number of students availing of the scholarship.
From its inception to this date, the conditions for scholarship have been kept simple. Under the program, tuition fee of the scholar would be paid for by Nograles as long as the student acquires a weighted average of at least 2.5, and does not fail nor drop any subject or get an incomplete grade. Also, each scholar is required to provide at least one-day community service in his/her barangay per semester.
Hence, the program transcends the purely educational aspect by also inculcating in each Nograles scholar the value of public service and giving back to the community. Community service activities include tree planting projects, rice assistance distribution and active involvement in barangay programs.
To develop the program even more, Congressman Karlo Nograles proposed an improved relationship with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) in order to cover financial assistance to other college students enrolled in private colleges and universities.
Under the CHED-Nograles Oplan Kaalam scholarship, each scholar is entitled to receive a financial assistance of five thousand pesos (P5,000) per school year to cover part of their tuition fee. In exchange, the scholars must not acquire any failing marks and must also render at least one-day community service in the barangay.
In School Year 2008-09, Congressman Karlo Nograles also opened a partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd) under DepEd’s Educational Voucher System. Through this program, first year high school students who graduated from a public elementary school and are currently enrolled in a private high school and whose family belongs to the lower income bracket, is entitled to receive a scholarship voucher worth five thousand pesos (P5,000) per year in order to cover the payment of his/her tuition fee for four years beginning in the scholar’s first year up to his/her fourth year in high school. From a meager 50 slots, Congressman Karlo Nograles was able to increase it to five hundred (500) slots for Davao City. Congressman Karlo Nograles guarantees to push for the same number of slots or even increase it every year.
Also in School Year 2008-09, Congressman Karlo Nograles started the free school supplies program in Davao City to provide poverty-stricken students in elementary and high schools with school supplies to help support their studies. As prices of school supplies have continuously increased over the years, Congressman Karlo Nograles felt that this should not be made a reason for parents to stop sending their children to school.
Education has always been in the heart of Congressman Karlo Nograles’ program for community development, himself having had the opportunity of obtaining his education in some of the best schools. Congressman Karlo Nograles believes that by attaining proper education, one can prepare a better future for himself and his community. Congressman Karlo Nograles also considers persons with knowledge as our nation’s most valued resource; that by investing in people’s education, we also invest in the future of our societies and our motherland.