Sen. Chiz Escudero lauds the enactment of the free higher education law that ensures tuition-free education in state universities and colleges (SUCs), local universities and colleges, as well as state-owned technical vocational institutions (TVIs) across the country.
“I thank the President for signing the Free Tertiary Education Act. This will be one of the lasting legacies of his presidency and the administration, and will go a long way for the Filipino youth,” said Escudero, chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture.
“I am very grateful that he signed it over and above the concerns and reservations of his economic managers,” he added.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed Republic Act No. 10931 on Friday, August 4, amidst doubts coming from his economic managers that the state simply cannot afford it.
Under the law, funding for free tuition, miscellaneous and other fees will be given to SUCs and state-run technical vocation institutions, as well as local universities and colleges accredited by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
The new law also includes the Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES), which covers tuition, miscellaneous and other fees of deserving students enrolled in SUCs and private educational institutions (PEIs), as well as the UNIFAST Loan Program which makes available loans to all qualified students in state-run learning institutions and PEIs.
According to Escudero, some P14 billion will be allocated to SUCs and another P1 billion will be earmarked for local universities and colleges. TVIs under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) will be given a budget of P5 billion.
Escudero explained that the law did not specify the amount in the appropriation clause “in order to give the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) enough leeway in programming the implementation.”
The veteran lawmaker pointed out that the amount needed to fund the free tuition, miscellaneous and other fees of students in SUCs alone would only cost P20 billion, a mere 0.5 percent of the total proposed national budget for Fiscal Year 2018. Escudero added that the full implementation of the law would only require around P43 billion, or a little over one percent of the proposed national budget for next year.
“This is a small and affordable amount insofar as investing in our human capital is concerned. The President has stated in his previous policy speeches that the most important resource of our county is our youth and our people, and we in Congress share the same vision,” Escudero said.
Escudero, who sponsored the bill as the bicameral conference chairman, also thanked all the authors in both chambers of Congress who worked hard to create a meaningful legislation.
“Thank you and congratulations to all the House and Senate authors and members who worked hard to craft and pass the Free Tertiary Education Act. It does not, however, end here as I am sure we will go through growing pains as we transition to this new student-centric regime insofar as tertiary education is concerned, where the students not the schools, are at the center,” Escudero said.