DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago filed a bill in Congress which seeks to abolish the tuition system, among others, to grant free college education in all state-owned universities and colleges acroos the country.
House Bill 4800 or the “Comprehensive Free Public Higher Education Bill” attempts to address the “backward educational system in the Philippines influenced by neoliberal policies.”
“This bill seeks to address the cumulative effect of decades of neoliberal restructuring in education that left Filipino students and their families heavily burdened, with most opting to drop out of school due to the prohibitive cost it entails,” Elago said.
On proposed abolition of the tuition system, Elago said the proposed bill does not espouse the concept of “subsidizing” tuition and other school fees.
“Instead of creating a separate fund to pay for the equivalent tuition and other school fee rates of students, this bill seeks to finance the actual ‘cost of attendance’ of students, the total amount a particular state-run university or college needs to provide education for a student per year, including proportional cost per student for personnel services, maintenance and other operating expenses, and capital outlay,” she explained.
“The total projected cost of attendance will become the primary determinant of a state-run university or college’s annual funding from the government and shall also serve as guide for the Executive Department in preparing the annual national expenditure program,” she added.
Elago pointed out that the bill was a result of a series of consultations with student leaders and youth organizations across the country, which culminated in the “National Gathering for Free Education” last Saturday, Jan. 21.
The bill also seeks the readmission of drop-outs, a Special Grant For Financially-Disadvantaged Students and the introduction of “a nationalist, scientific, and mass-oriented higher education curriculum.”
“If passed, this bill stands to benefit not only the 1.6 million students currently enrolled in SUCs, but also millions of others who will be able to enter college without fearing the heavy costs. At a more fundamental level, the passage of this bill will also result in the reversal of decades of attacks on the right of every Filipino to education,” Elago said. (davaotoday.com)