DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Commission on Higher Education’s proposed P8.3 billion additional budget has been pushed by both the Senate and House of Representatives to grant free tuition in all state universities and colleges starting next year.

In a social media post of Kabataan partylist Representative Sarah Elago expressed her excitement over the approval of P8.3 billion additional fund under the Higher Education Support Fund for all SUC’s and some incentives and grants for 2017.

“This is a victory for the youth movement which has long fought for the right to education. This is great news for the nation’s youth and their families, especially the poor and marginalized,” she said.

Elago added that the approval of the additional budget is the best news of the millennials since it will have a huge effect not only in the present, but the future of those who want to finish their education.

The Kabataan representative described the approval as a “game-changer” as it tracks the right direction for all SUC’s.

However, Elago said the 2017 budget is still a “pro-big business and corruption-prone framed to implement and further exacerbate neoliberal attacks against the Filipino people.”

“We must continue to oppose neoliberal policies of deregulation, privatization and denationalization of education,” she said.

Meanwhile, Abdul Sissay of League of Filipino Students- Southern Mindanao also lauded the approval of the additional budget as a “first step towards reaching the free education for all the youth of the country.”

“We recognize it as a fruit of the struggle and the initiatives of the youth and the students to claim their right for free education,” he said.

Both leaders reminded the public to engage on the now-approved additional budget to witness and monitor the implementation of the purpose of the additional budget.

Sissay warned the youth sector to be vigilant especially on the implementing rules and regulation of the CHED and the Department of Budget and Management.

“Because even if they will implement the free tuition, there are still repressive and neo-liberal policies present in schools,” he said.

Elago said the youth sector and the public should follow through the initial victory of having additional budget for free tuition.

“We must collectively advance our struggle to reclaim the public character of SUCs and institutionalize free public education in all levels,” she said.

Elago now urged student regents, trustee, councils and student governments to conduct consultation summits that may help shape and monitor the implementation of the policy on the free tuition to all SUC’s.(davaotoday.com)

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