January 24, 2017
Bam sponsors free tuition in SUCs bill, eyes more college graduates
To unlock the door to a brighter future for more Filipinos, Sen. Bam Aquino urged colleagues to provide free tuition fees in state college and universities (SUCs).
"I believe it's high time we invest boldly on education, especially now that we have the means and resources to make this happen," said Sen. Bam, chairman of the Committee on Education, in his sponsorship speech for Senate Bill No. 1304 or the "Free Higher Education for All Act".
Sen. Bam's Senate Bill No. 177 was consolidated in Senate Bill No. 1304 together with other similar measures, which seek to provide free tuition fee to all students in SUCs.
In his speech, Sen. Bam expressed hope that institutionalization of free tuition in SUCs will lead to more college graduates.
Based on data, only one of four students in SUCs will earn a degree while the rest will drop out. The number one reason for drop outs is financial issues or poverty.
"Our proposed measure seeks to improve access to higher education and empower more Filipinos with the promise of a college diploma," Sen. Bam stressed.
At present, the senator said about 1,645,566 students are enrolled in different SUCs, where the average weighted annual tuition is P9,407.
If passed, Sen. Bam said the government will shell out around P16 billion every year to subsidize tuition fees in SUCs.
On top of the free tuition in SUCs, Sen. Bam also assured private stakeholders that the government will also strengthen its Student Financial Assistance Program or StuFAP.
At present, 19 StuFAPs are lodged in different government agencies such as the Commission on Higher Education, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and the Department of National Defense (DND).
These programs include scholarships, grants-in-aid, student loans, subsidies and incentives that cover other educational expenses and the living allowance incurred by students pursuing higher education.
With the proposed measure and other policies and laws, such as the Iskolar ng Bayan Act, StuFAP through UNIFAST, and scholarships lodged in CHED, DOST and DND, Sen. Bam is confident that more Filipinos will be empowered by a college degree.
In addition to the free tuition in SUCs, Sen. Bam also filed several education-related measures -- Senate Bill No. 1278 or Trabaho Centers in Schools Act and Senate Bill No 171 or the Abot Alam Bill. Senate Bill No. 1279 is now being tackled in the plenary.
"Isa lang po ito sa inaalay naming reporma sa hanay ng edukasyon. Marami pa po tayong ibang kailangang i-trabaho at gawin upang tunay na umasenso ang buhay ng bawat Pilipino," Sen. Bam pointed out.
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