It's been a year since Senator Bam Aquino filed four bills to improve access to quality education in the Philippines. Just four days ago, there was an issue whether or not free tuition in 2018 would have to be scrapped because of budget constraints. But what's the latest update in the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Bill?
In a forum this morning, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra announced that President Rodrigo Duterte has officially signed the bill into law. However, this doesn't mean it is effective immediately as "the law will take effect 15 days after publication in a newspaper of general circulation." In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Guevarra also noted that students who can avail of the additional educational expenses apart from free tuition must belong to the "bottom 20 percent" of the student population.
But it seems like out of all State Universities and Colleges in the Philippines, Commission on Higher Education's Commissioner Prospero De Vera has confirmed that the University of the Philippines will collect tuition fees for school year 2017-2018. In a report by Maki Pulido of GMA News, the reason for the retraction of the free tuition scheme is because of a miscalculation in UP's budget.
Students in UP Diliman started the registration process earlier this week with protests calling for #FreeEducNow.
In a post on the University of the Philippines Facebook Page last night, students who have yet to apply for tuition subsidy and financial support were urged to visit The Office of Student Financial Assistance online portal to apply. Deadline of application is on August 8. Classes for the first semester start on August 7.
As of this morning, youth leaders, congress representatives have gathered at AS Steps (Palma Hall) to discuss the law. According to ACT Teacher's Party List Representative Antonio Tinio, it is possible for funds to be realigned to cover all expenses for SUCs' free tuition.
UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan is also one with the students, calling for free tuition.
Are you one of the students affected by this? What are your thoughts on the current state of the free tuition bill?