Free Higher Education for All Act

Sen. Bam: No political patronage in free education in SUCs, LUCs

A senator hopes free education in state universities and colleges (SUCs) and local universities and colleges (LUCs) will discourage political patronage.
“Unang-una, lahat ng estudyante po bibigyan ng tulong. Kaya iyong palakasan sa mga pulitiko dahil iilan lang ang mabibigyan ng tulong, hindi na valid iyan,” Sen. Bam Aquino said during a press conference discussing the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.
“Sa ganitong paraan, hindi na kailangang kumuha pa ng endorsement letters para magkaroon ng subsidy. Hopefully, that will help decrease patronage in the provision of scholarships,” added Sen. Bam.
The Senate and the House both ratified the bicameral conference committee report. It will now be transmitted to Malacanang for President Duterte’s approval.
According to Sen. Bam, the final version makes education in SUCs, LUCs and vocational schools under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) virtually free, with the government shouldering tuition, miscellaneous and other fees.
“Kapag ito’y naisabatas na, magiging state policy na libre na ang tertiary level education pagdating sa SUCs, LUCs at pati na sa vocational schools ng TESDA,” said Sen. Bam, who defended the measure in plenary debates and interpellation during his stint as chairman of the Committee on Education.
Sen. Bam was also the co-chairman of the Senate delegation to the bicameral conference committee, together with new Committee on Education chairman Sen. Francis Escudero. Other members of the Senate panel are Sens. Sherwin Gatchalian and Ralph Recto.
If enacted into law, it will institutionalize free tuition and other fees in SUCs and LUCs all over the country, giving underprivileged students a chance to earn a college degree.
It will also make scholarship grants available to students of both public and private college and universities.

Sponsorship Speech: 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.

Bam: P8B budget for college tuition, good sign for free higher ed law

The additional P8 billion budget for free tuition in colleges and universities is a good sign that we will pass the Free Higher Education for All bill, according to Sen. Bam Aquino.

  “The Senate initiative to make colleges and universities tuition-free is a major reform that will greatly benefit Filipino families and the approved 8-billion peso budget for SUCs is a good sign that our bill will pass,” said Sen. Bam, chairman of the Committee on Education.

During Tuesday’s bicameral conference committee, lawmakers approved the additional P8 billion budget to be distributed to different SUCs in 2017.

As chairman of the Committee on Education, Sen. Bam has filed Senate Bill No. 177 or the Free Higher Education for All Act giving free tuition fee to all students in SUCs.

 Earlier, Sen. Bam expressed confidence that the measure will be enacted into law next year due to the Senate’s overwhelming support for its passage.

 “Mahalaga na mabigyan ng tulong ang ating mahihirap na estudyante at pati ang kanilang mga magulang. Marami sa amin ang talagang tinutulak ito,” said Sen. Bam.

 During a recent hearing, several sectors pushed different methods to implement the measure. Some groups want to focus on specific courses while others believe that it should be based on the student’s capacity to pay.

 Different groups also raised the possibility of expanding the measure’s coverage by providing poor students with miscellaneous expenses, transportation expenses and living expenses, in addition to a free tuition fee.

 Aside from improving access to tertiary education, Sen. Bam said he will also work to improve the quality of public education in the Philippines and address underemployment and jobs mismatch through Trabaho Centers.


Bam to work for passage of free education in SUCs

Sen. Bam Aquino expressed confidence that the measure giving free education to all students in State Colleges and Universities (SUC) will be passed within a year.
“We’re quite hopeful that this will pass. Mahalaga na mabigyan ng tulong ang ating mahihirap na estudyante sa SUC. Marami sa amin ang talagang tinutulak ito,” said Sen. Bam, chairman of the Committee on Education, after hearing several proposals to give free tertiary education in all SUCs. 
Sen. Bam has filed Senate Bill No. 177 or the Free Higher Education for All Act giving free tuition fee to all students in SUCs.
The senator said the committee will hold several technical working groups to iron out and consolidate provisions of the different measures and come up with a version that will truly help poor students who want to finish college.
“I think we owe it to our students to go through a tedious process to refine the bill. But I’m confident that we can get this done within a year,” said Sen. Bam.
During the hearing, several sectors pushed different methods to implement the measure. Some groups want to focus on courses that student will take while others believe that it should be based on the student’s capacity to pay.
Different groups also raised the possibility of expanding the measure’s coverage by providing poor students with miscellaneous expenses, transportation expenses and living expenses, in addition to a free tuition fee.
Aside from improving access to tertiary education, Sen. Bam said he will also work to improve the quality of education in SUCs.
“Just because we’re working on this bill, hindi ibig sabihin kakalimutan na natin ang kalidad. We have to ensure quality as well as access,” said Sen. Bam.
“Kung itutulak mo ito (free tuition fee) plus magsabay ka ng intervention sa kalidad, mas gaganda ang quality ng SUCs,” he added.


BIDA KA!: Edukasyon at agham

Mga bida, sa pagsisimula ng 17th Congress, naipagkatiwala sa atin ang dalawang kumite sa Senado — ang Education at Science and Technology.

Mula sa pagbabantay ng kapa­kanan ng ating micro, small and medium enterprises at kabataan noong 16th Congress, mga isyu tungkol sa edukasyon, agham at teknolohiya ang ating bibigyang pansin sa susunod na tatlong taon.

Bago pa man pormal na naibigay sa atin ang Committee on Education, nakapaghain na tayo ng apat na panukalang batas na may kinalaman sa edukasyon.

Pangunahin dito ang Senate Bill No. 177 o ang Free Higher Education for All Act, na layong gawing libre ang pag-aaral sa state universities at colleges sa buong bansa.


Ang panukalang ito ay alinsunod sa itinatakda ng Saligang Batas na tungkulin ng pamahalaan na itaguyod ang karapatan ng mamamayan na mabigyan ng de-kalidad na edukasyon sa lahat ng antas.

Nakakaalarma ang nakuha nating datos mula sa Commission on Higher Education (CHED) na dalawa sa limang high school graduates, o 40 porsiyento, ang hindi nakakatungtong ng kolehiyo dahil sa mataas na tuition fee at iba pang gastusin.

Marami naman sa mga nakapagtapos ng high school ay kaila­ngang mamili kung magtatrabaho ba para makatulong sa pamilya o para makapag-aral ang ibang mga kapatid sa kolehiyo.

Nakakapanghinayang naman kung hindi makakatungtong sa kolehiyo ang isang estudyante dahil sa kahirapan.

Ito sana ang magbibigay ng pagkakataon sa kanila para maiahon sa kahirapan ang kanilang pamilya. Mas maganda ang tsansang umasenso at kumita ng malaki kapag mayroong natapos na kurso sa kolehiyo.

Kapag naisabatas na ang panukala, mas marami nang kabataang Pilipino, lalo na ang mahihirap, ang makakatuntong sa kolehiyo.


Inihain ko ang Free Education for Children of Public School Teachers Bill o ang Senate Bill No. 173. Layon nitong bigyan ng scholarship ang mga anak ng public school teachers sa lahat ng SUCs sa bansa.

Sa panukalang ito, bibigyan ng subsidy o tulong ang mga guro na sasagot sa 100 porsiyento ng tuition fee at iba pang bayarin sa miscellaneous kapag nag-enrol ang kanilang mga anak sa SUCs.

Kailangan lang makapasa sa mga kuwalipikasyon ng panukala ang mga anak ng public school teachers bago mabigyan ng libreng edukasyon sa SUCs.

Pakay ng panukalang ito na bawasan ang pasanin ng ating public school teachers, na malaki ang isinakripisyo, tulad ng malaking suweldo, para lang mabigyan ng edukasyon ang mahihirap nating mga kababayan.


May isinumite rin tayong Sente Bill No. 170 o ang Trabaho Center in Schools Bill, kung saan magtatayo ng Trabaho Center na tutulong sa Senior High School graduates na gusto nang magtrabaho para makahanap ng papasukan.

Sa ilalim nito, maglalagay ng Trabaho Centers sa mga paaralan upang tulungan ang Senior High School graduates sa ilalim ng K to 12 program na ayaw nang magtuloy ng kolehiyo at nais nang magtrabaho. Sa ibang bansa, ang Trabaho Centers ay tinatawag na Job Placement Office.

Tututok ang Trabaho Center sa tatlong pangunahing bagay — career counseling services, employment facilitation at industry matching – na mahahalagang elemento para makahanap ng trabaho.

Alalahanin natin na ang mga Senior High School ay mabibigyan na ng certification mula sa TESDA.


Inihain ko rin ang Senate Bill No. 172 o ang Abot Alam Bill na tutugon naman sa pangangailangan ng mga kabataang Pinoy na may edad pito hanggang 24 na hindi nag-aaral.
Ito’y lilikha ng isang programa na magbibigay ng edukasyon sa bawat Pilipino, lalo na ang out-of-school youth (OSY).

Sa tulong ng Abot Alam na ipinatupad ng nakaraang administrasyon, halos kalahati ang nabawas sa bilang ng mga kabataang hindi nag-aaral.

Kapag naisabatas natin ito, umaasa ako na mababawasan pa ang bilang ng OSY sa bansa.


Nagpalit man tayo ng kumite, hindi pa rin natin nakakalimutan ang iba pa nating adbokasiya, gaya ng pagsusulong ng kapakanan ng MSMEs at iba pang problema ng bansa.

Asahan niyo na hindi magbabago ang ating masigasig na pagtatrabaho para sa mga bidang Pilipino.


Article first published on Abante Online


Universal Access to Quality Higher Education Act

In the Philippines, 2 out of 5 high school graduates do not pursue tertiary education, hindered by the high tuition fees in addition to miscellaneous expenses in cured while studying. After spending many years working hard to make ends meet in order to put their children through school to obtain a high school diploma, it is often a disappointment to students who face the choice between working to help their family sacrificing the education of other siblings so that one may be sent to college.

In line with the mandate of our Constitution, the State must uphold the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels. This bill seeks to make tertiary education in all State Universities and Colleges free of tuition for its students and fully subsidized by government.

Tertiary education is a valuable key that can help Filipino families break out of the poverty cycle, as families headed by tertiary degree holders earn, on average, two times as much as families who do not have postsecondary education.

However, higher education is often only available to middle-income families who can afford the high tuition fees and extra costs. As a result, these families continue to reap the benefits of obtaining a postsecondary education while poor families continue struggling to reach beyond their current economic situation.

In a nation with glaring income and educational inequality, the provision of tuition-free college education will be one great leap toward developing our fragile benefit the most and will be empowered both economically and socially to be able to fully participate in our democratic nation.

A college education is not only a qualification that results in higher paying jobs, but it is most importantly a means for the development of knowledge, innovation and social change in a nation. Supporting the growth of higher education in the Philippines will serve to heighten the quality of our workforce so that we may partake more meaningfully in the global production of knowledge.




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