By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) announced that a total of 10 state universities and a CHED-recognized local college from Region 8 are now gearing for the implementation of free higher education set to be fully implemented this year.
CHED, in statement, said that over 100,000 students from Eastern Visayas Region are expected to benefit from the Republic Act (RA) 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (UAQTEA).
Officials from the region’s higher education institutions attended the Region 8 leg of the CHED-UniFAST Nationwide Information Caravan on RA 10931 on April 25 at the Leyte Academic Center in Palo, Leyte. Also in attendance were guests and representatives from the technical-vocational institutions, local government units, and media agencies.
Among the Eastern Visayas-based public higher education institutions that will offer free education are Eastern Samar State University, Eastern Visayas State University, Leyte Normal University, Naval State University, Northwest Samar State University, Palompom Polytechnic State University, Samar State University, Southern Leyte State University, University of Eastern Philippines, Visayas State University, and Maasin City College.
Based on CHED data, there are 100,968 students enrolled in state universities in Region 8 in academic year 2016-2017.
Meanwhile, Unified Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) Secretariat officer-in-charge executive director Atty. Carmelita Yadao-Sison explained that the rules and regulations of the landmark law are designed to increase the opportunities for access to all the vital programs of acquiring a degree or a technical vocational qualification.
“The vision of UniFAST is to engender generations of Filipinos with equitable access to tertiary education that enhances competencies, enabling them to have better quality of lives and be of greater service to the country,” Sison said.
Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) executive director Elmer Talavera also gave an update regarding the Implementing Guidelines for Free TVET that the agency is currently drafting. Talavera likewise requested the audience to promote Free TVET among potential learners.
Caravan goes on
To disseminate more information on Free Higher Education, CHED has been holding a series of events in various regions that are aimed to “ensure the successful implementation of the landmark law.”
In March, CHED released the Enhanced Implementing Rules and regulation (IRR) of the RA 10931. Signed into law by President Duterte in August last year, the UAQTEA has been given by the Congress a P40-billion allocation in the 2018 General Appropriations Act for its first-year implementation.
The RA 10931, as earlier explained by CHED officer-in-charge Prospero De Vera III, will provide free higher education (tuition, miscellaneous and other fees) in 112 State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) and 78 CHED-recognized Local Universities and Colleges (LUCs), Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES), free Technical-Vocational Education and Training (TVET) for those enrolled in state-run Technical Vocational Institutions, Tertiary Education Subsidy, and a Student Loan Program (SLP).
The latest leg of the Nationwide Information Caravan on Republic Act 10931 was held today at the Legazpi City Convention Center.