If enacted into law, the measure providing free education in state universities and colleges (SUCs) and local universities and colleges (LUCs) will be a major reform in the country’s education system, as it will open up tertiary level education to more Filipinos.
“This is a huge reform for struggling students and their hard working parents. I became a legislator because I wanted to spearhead initiatives like this that can help our countrymen reach their hopes and dreams,” Senator Bam Aquino, the principal sponsor and co-author of the measure, now known as the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, in the Senate.
The bicameral conference committee approved the report last week. Once it is ratified by both Houses, it will be transmitted to Malacanang for President Duterte’s approval.
“All it needs is the President’s signature to make tuition and other fees in SUCs and LUCs free, and financial support for students in private colleges and universities through grants and loans accessible and available,” said Aquino.
The measure, once passed into law, will complete the chain in the country’s educational institutions and give more Filipinos access to quality education.
“Noong dekada otsensa lang naging libre ang high school sa Pilipinas. Thirty years later, magiging libre na rin ang tertiary o college sa SUCs at LUCs. We’re really making educational institutions accessible to more Filipinos,” said the legislator.
The lawmaker defended the measure in plenary debates and interpellation during his stint as chairman of the Committee on Education. He was also the co-chairman of the Senate delegation to the bicameral conference committee, together with new Committee on Education chairman Senator Francis Escudero. Other members of the Senate panel are Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Ralph Recto.
If approved, it will institutionalize free tuition and other fees in SUCs and LUCs all over the country, giving underprivileged students a chance to earn a college degree.
It will also streamline and strengthen all Student Financial Assistance Programs (StuFAP), making it available to students who want to pursue higher education in private institutions, as well as subsidizing other expenses of SUC students.