MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) launched on Monday the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (UAQTEA) which will take effect this academic year (AY) 2018 to 2019.
This prompted the progressive Kabataan party list (KPL) to issue a statement denouncing the IRR of the free tuition program, saying CHED “has only bastardized the victory of a decades-long struggle of the youth by formulating an IRR that negates the concept of education as a right.”
The Republic Act 10931, which was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte on August 3, 2017, will provide free tuition, miscellaneous and other similar fees for students enrolled in state universities and colleges (SUCs), and CHED-recognized local universities and colleges (LUCs).
Miscellaneous fees include library, computer, laboratory, school ID, athletic admission, development, guidance, handbook, entrance, registration, medical, dental and cultural fees.
The law also provides subsidy or grants-in-aid, free technical-vocational education and training (TVET) for those enrolled in state-run technical vocational institutions (TVIs), as well as a nation Student Loan Program (SLP).
Kabataan party list said the IRR contains provisions turn students into slaves, such as the return service agreement.
The group also downplayed the IRR as “unreasonably overdue.”
“It (CHED) should be held accountable not only for the delay in the release of IRR but also in the continued hampering of the full implementation of the free tuition and no collection policies,” the party list said.
“The fight for genuine free education continues. How disappointing that,” it added.
The Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST), the agency created under RA 10687, was mandated to implement all the identified programs stated in RA 10931.
The group also reiterated its demand to refund to students all fees collected during the second semester of AY 2017 to 2018.
Over P40 million was allocated for the implementation of the UAQTEA, but KPL said around P5 million had remained un-disbursed from the Free Tuition Policy (FTP). (davaotoday.com)