“We are elated that, earlier feared to be vetoed by the President, the measure for a free tertiary education is now a reality. The dream to have a college diploma is now within reach.”
Bohol First District Representative and Vice Chair of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education are among those who pushed for the bill, now a landmark legislation – Republic Act 10931 or the “Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act”.
“Education is a right. For so long, college education in the Philippines is seen to belong only to the privileged few. This has to change. The playing field must be leveled. Education does not favor only the moneyed but to all who are willing to study,” the lawmaker said.
According to the Functional Literacy, Education and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS), about 1 in every 10 or about 4 million Filipino children and youth 6 – 24 years old are out-of-school. The 2013 FLEMMS also reveal that 93% of Filipinos 6 years old and over – or about 7.6 million – reach college but are not able to graduate.
The 2013 FLEMMS survey also reveal that among the out-of-school youth aged 16-24, about 1.6 million point to their family’s inability to sustain their education as reason for not attending school, while about 824,000 or 7.8 percent point to the high cost of education as main reason for not studying. The report also revealed that only 20.7 percent of persons 16-24 years old, or one in five, attended college.
This is consistent with the result of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) study revealing the same reasons for the low-college turnout: inability of the family to pay and the high cost of education.
“With the sources for education now out of mind, the students can focus on studying and the families can focus on the improvement of their lives. It’s really a win-win-win situation for all.”
“We do not want another Kristel Tejada,” Rep. Relapagos recalled. “It’s a senseless loss of life. Education is a community effort with the government taking the lead role.” Tejada was a freshman Behavioral Science student from University of the Philippines – Manila who took her life, in March 2013, when she failed to pay her Php 10,000.00 tuition at the state university. She was forced to file a leave of absence which led to her untimely death. Her father is a part-time taxi driver while her mother is unemployed. Tejada is the first of 5 siblings.
Broken down in its simplest elements, RA 10931 include: 1) Free higher education in State Universities and Colleges and Local Universities and Colleges; 2) Free technical-vocational education in post-secondary technical-vocational institutions under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority or TESDA; 3) Tertiary Education Subsidy for Filipino Students; and 4) Student Loan Program for Tertiary Education.
Under the law, 295,000 students in private colleges and universities who belong to the lowest 30-percent income class will each be provided with P20,000 in tertiary education subsidy per semester, which may be used for tuition and other expenses. It also provides for P1.3 billion in student loans for those who belong to the lowest 30 percent of Filipinos who may need additional resources to pursue their college studies.
“As corny as this may sound but, really, the children and the youths are our future. But what can we expect if they are being discriminated against on the basis of financial capacity to be educated? Education must be accessible to all. There should be no discrimination on the basis of money,” Rep. Relampagos ended.
The implementing rules and regulations are now being drafted for the 2018 academic year.