Sponsorship Speech: Free Higher Education for All Act
SENATE BILL NO. 1304 UNDER COMMITTEE REPORT NO. 28
AN ACT PROVIDING FOR A FULL TUITION FEE SUBSIDY FOR STUDENTS ENROLLED IN STATE UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES (SUCs), AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREOF
OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE “FREE HIGHER EDUCATION FOR ALL ACT”
Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” A. Aquino IV
17th Congress, Senate of the Philippines
Sponsorship Speech, January 24, 2016
Good afternoon, Mr. President and esteemed colleagues! Mga kaibigan at mga kababayan, magandang hapon sa ating lahat.
Today, I am privileged to address you to sponsor a measure that can help make the dream and promise of a college degree a reality for a number of Filipinos and their families.
This measure has received tremendous support from our colleagues, from the public and especially our youth, the students.
I stand before you to sponsor Senate Bill No. 1304, entitled “An Act Providing for a Full Tuition Fee Subsidy for Students Enrolled in State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) and Appropriating Funds Thereof”, otherwise known as the “Free Higher Education For All Act”, which seeks to subsidize tuition fees in all our SUCs.
Mr. President, simply put, kapag naisabatas na po ang batas na ito, magiging libre na ang tuition fee sa ating SUCs!
Ang batas po na ito ay para sa mga kabataang Pilipino na nagsusumikap upang makapagpatapos ng kanilang kolehiyo, at para na rin po sa kanilang mga magulang na nagtatrabaho upang mabayaran ang gastos sa pag-aaral.
Mr. President, let’s imagine the lives of four students ready and eager to earn a college degree in a state university and college. Let’s imagine the lives of Liza, Kathy, Norman, and Trisha. All four of them have graduated from Grade 12 and now have the opportunity to study in an SUC!
Perhaps Liza dreams of graduating and earning a degree so she can work as a manager in a 5-star hotel all the way in Singapore! Kathy is hopeful that becoming an engineer will provide her with higher pay so she can contribute to her family’s monthly expenses. Norman is determined to graduate so he can find a challenging and profitable job in media to help put his sister through elementary school. And Trisha is studying hard so she can become a public school teacher and help shape the next generation of Filipinos.
Mr. President, the key to all four of these dreams is to graduate from a college or university. But sadly, Mr. President and honored colleagues, most likely only one out of the four will earn a degree. And the number one reason for students dropping out of a Higher Education Institution? That number one reason, Mr. President, is Financial Issues or Poverty.
Ipagpalagay na po natin na kay Liza, Kathy, Norman, at Trisha, si Kathy po ang nakapag-graduate. Masaya po tayo para sa kaniya at kaniyang pamilya! Congratulations, Kathy. At tuluy-tuloy ang pagtatrabaho natin para makakuha ng magandang trabaho si Kathy!
Ngunit paano naman ang pangarap ni Liza na makapagtrabaho sa isang 5-star hotel sa ibang bansa? Paano po si Norman na magtrabaho sa media at tulungan ang kaniyang kapatid sa elementarya? Paano po matutulungan si Trisha na gustong maging guro at gusto pong magsilbi sa bayan?
What happens to the other 3? What happens to the rest of the youth who cannot finish because of a lack of finances?
Mr. President, esteemed colleagues, we now have an opportunity to unlock the door to a brighter future for more Filipinos. Let’s make higher education more accessible to our struggling students!
Currently, there are 1,645,566 students in our State Universities and Colleges and the Annual Weighted Average Tuition in SUCs is 9,407 (Philippine) pesos per year. That gives us a cost of about 16 billion pesos every year to make tuition fees free across our SUCs.
This measure covers only tuition fees, which refers to the cost of instruction and training of our students.
This is about 30 percent of the cost of expenses of our students.
Mr. President, I believe it’s high time we invest boldly on education, especially now that we have the means and resources to make this happen!
It’s a fair price to pay to embolden and empower more Filipinos like Liza, Kathy, Norman and Trisha to achieve their dreams – for themselves, for their families, and for their country.
Mr. President, we need to take a look at our proposed measure as one, albeit, important reform that we wish to pass to address the perennial issue of access to quality education.
Our proposed measure can be coupled with other policies already found in our laws, like the Iskolar ng Bayan Act, streamlining the StuFAP or Student Financial Assistance Program (StuFAP) found in UNIFAST in the UNIFAST Law, and scholarships lodged in CHED, DOST, DND, among other agencies. Together, they can improve access to higher education and empower more Filipinos with a promise of a college diploma!
Together with policies already passed, laws already passed, programs already being implemented, our measure can complete the picture and support our students and our SUCs further.
Isa lang po ito sa mga inaalay naming reporma sa hanay ng edukasyon. Marami pa po tayong kailangang i-trabaho at gawin upang tunay na umasenso ang buhay ng bawat estudyante at buhay ng bawat pamilyang Pilipino. Marami pa po tayong kailangan gawin, at tuluy-tuloy lang po ang pagtatrabaho ng ating kumite!
Pero makakasigurado po tayo na ang batas na ito ay isang napakahalagang reporma sa pangarap at pangakong iyan.
Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, let’s give our countrymen, not just hope, but tangible support in achieving their dreams.
Together, if we pass SBN 1304, the Free Higher Education for All Act, we’re investing in the future of our promising young Filipinos!
Maraming salamat Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, thank you for your support.