Free tuition at state universities and colleges

IN the Philippines, when parents are asked what their dreams are for their children, the very immediate response is “Makatapos sila ng pag-aaral (For them to finish education)”, and formal education in the Philippines is usually until college. However, with the very limited financial capacities of many of the Filipino families, not everyone can reach college. This is primarily the reason college education is such the ultimate dream – not just by Filipino parents but by the children as well.

Filipinos believe that finishing tertiary education will open more and better doors of employment opportunities for their children. Access to free education had been the cry of college students for decades now.

And so even if it gained a mix of different reactions from the Filipinos, President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing into law of the bill that will grant free tuition and other fees for students in state universities and colleges (SUCs) is still being eyed to be one of the ways for more Filipinos to access tertiary education.

Joy Montecalvo was born and raised in Mabini, Compostela Valley. This school year, her youngest brother will finally be entering college and will enroll in the nearest state college after he passed the entrance exam. Montecalvo said the free education law just signed by the president last year will really help with families like them who have minimal income.

“The money that is supposed to be paid for the tuition can now be allotted for other expenses in his school such as projects and other miscellaneous things. I think the greatest benefit of this law is that it allows my brother and other students who really want to study but cannot due to limited financial capacity,” Montecalvo said in vernacular.

As stated in Republic Act 10931 or the “Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act”, students enrolled in SUCs, local universities and colleges (LUCs), and state-run technical-vocational institutions (TVI) under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) can avail of the free tuition.

In Davao Region, the SUCs and LUCs covered by the free tuition are Compostela Valley State College, Davao del Norte State College, Davao Oriental State College of Science and Technology, Southern Philippines Agri-Business and Marine and Aquatic School of Technology, University of Southeastern Philippines, and University of the Philippines.

With the free tertiary education, Filipinos like Montecalvo are hoping that the dream “Makapagtapos ng pag-aaral” will not remain to be a dream but for every Filipino to achieve. Now, with the first batch of K-12 students graduating from senior high school, influx of newly-bred college students, to whom the country has a high expectation of, will now enter the universities and colleges to hopefully bring about the dream of everyone finishing college.