By Arjay L. Balinbin
PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Wednesday witnessed the ceremonial signing of the memorandum of agreement (MoA) between the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) and state and local universities and colleges, thereby launching the implementation of Republic Act 10931, which provides for free tuition at these schools.
“A total of 112 state universities and colleges (SUCs) and 78 local universities and colleges (LUCs) inked the agreement to launch the implementation of Republic Act No. 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act,” the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) said in a statement.
In his speech at the Rizal Hall of Malacañan Palace, the President stressed that education “opens doors for countless opportunities” for Filipinos of university age.
However, “at present, millions of Filipino youth are having a hard time to go to college due to poverty,” he added.
“I recognize the valuable efforts of Congress, CHEd, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) for making this elusive dream a reality,” the President said.
Mr. Duterte also reminded the public that they “must pay their taxes for the government to work.”
The President was addressing CHEd commissioners; the governing board and members, secretariat, and regional coordinators of the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST); representatives from Technical Vocational Institutions, SUCs, LUCs, local government units (LGUs), and civil society organizations; and the CHEd Central and Regional Office directors, among others, the PCOO also said.
The law, according to its implementing rules and regulations (IRR), covers all Filipino students who are either currently enrolled at the time of its effectivity, or shall enroll at any time thereafter, in courses leading to a bachelor’s degree in any SUC and LUC.
“All students availing themselves of the free higher education provision shall be entitled to: (a) free tuition for all courses/subjects/classes enrolled in during a particular semester/term, as part of the curriculum and are essential to obtaining a degree. This includes approved petitioned classes, but not non-credit within-semester tutorial or review classes, nor review and enhancement classes offered by the HEI (Higher Education Institution); (b) free miscellaneous and other school fees,” the IRR also said.
In a statement, CHEd said that “with the implementation of the Republic Act (RA) 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act this coming school year, parents of students who are enrolled in SUCs, CHEd-recognized LUCs, and state-run Technical-Vocational Institutions (TVIs), will no longer worry about paying tuition and miscellaneous fees.”
“We hope there are no more obstacles for parents wanting their children to complete their education. Initially, this initiative was limited to SUCs, but was extended to CHEd-recognized LUCs, and institutions accredited by TESDA,” Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) President Tirso A. Ronquillo was quoted as saying.