Senator Bong Go filed Senate Bill No. 1708 that seeks to mandate private higher education institutions to waive college entrance examination fees to underprivileged graduating high school students and high school graduates belonging to the academic top ten of their graduating class.
“Let us help widen the opportunities of our underprivileged youth especially the best and the brightest,” Go stressed.
“Bigyan natin ng oportunidad at insentibo ang ating kabataan na mag-aral ng Mabuti.”
“Ang edukasyon ang tanging puhunan natin sa mundong ito. Ito rin ang susi sa mas maginhawang kinabukasan. Bigyan natin ng oportunidad at insentibo ang ating kabataan na mag-aral ng mabuti para mailayo sila sa masasamang bisyo at bilang kapalit na rin sa paghihirap ng kanilang mga magulang na pag-aralin sila,” the legislator added.
In the explanatory note of the measure, the lawmaker noted that the 1987 Constitution provides that “the State shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels and to take appropriate steps to make education accessible to all”.
This, according to the senator, clearly defines the role of the State in making sure that every citizen has equal access to quality education.
He lamented, however, that through the years, the cost of quality education, even in the application stage, continues to rise, making it seemingly unaffordable to underprivileged students given their limited financial capacity.
This prompted him to file SBN 1708 or the “Free College Entrance Examinations Act of 2023” providing the aforementioned benefit to underprivileged graduating high school students and high school graduates belonging to the academic top ten of the graduating class who are applying for college admission.
Under the measure, a student will become eligible as beneficiary if he or she is a natural-born Filipino citizen and a graduating high school student or a high school graduate who belongs to the academic top ten of their graduating class and seeks to be admitted to a private higher education institution within the country.
The student must also belong to a family whose combined income falls below the poverty threshold, as determined by the National Economic and Development Authority and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
With the measure, Go is hoping for the expansion and further democratization of the access to quality college education in private higher education institutions.
“The exemption from the imposition of entrance examination fees is one such mechanism that shall give adequate assistance and equal opportunity to these students to pursue their dreams of obtaining a college education.”
“The exemption from the imposition of entrance examination fees is one such mechanism that shall give adequate assistance and equal opportunity to these students to pursue their dreams of obtaining a college education,” he explained.
Last year, Go has also reintroduced SBN 1190 which seeks to expand the application of the Special Education Fund (SEF) to other needs of the public education system by amending Republic Act No. 7160 or the “Local Government Code”.
The measure provides for the expansion of the application of the additional one percent (1%) Special Education Fund tax to other items relating to education, such as the construction and repair of libraries, and payment of salaries, allowances and other benefits of teaching and non-teaching personnel, to name a few.
According to Go, the proposed amendment will make the use of the fund less restrictive and will allow LGUs to maximize their resources to adopt new education policies and learning techniques that are necessary at this time.