Campus groups seek to be enlightened on the current state of affairs of the implementing rules and regulations of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Law or RA 10931 which promised to make tertiary education accessible to all Filipino youth.
Free Eduk Watch (FEW), a coalition of student groups from state and local colleges and universities forwarding free, accessible and quality education for all claimed that “many have become anxious as both implementing agencies, the CHEd and UNIFAST have remained bizarrely mum on queries as who will benefit, how much, and how will it be implemented”.
They say that six months has passed since it was enactment and two CHEd Commissioners have left their posts and several news advisories circulated by CHEd stating that the IRR has been finalized, “but has remained out of reach for millions college applicants, making their future uncertain and their parents frantic”.
The Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (Spark), a convenor of FEW, fear that the delay maybe caused by aggressive lobbying efforts by the owners of private universities, of which they found out that they have already been furnished with advance copies of the IRR.
“Corporate lobbying, inadequate allocations to fully implement RA 10931 will add up to the multiple restrictions of the law’s provisions and will likely exacerbate the inaccessibility of education, further marginalizing its supposed beneficiaries”.
“If the framers of the law intended RA 10931 to level the playing field, they will be most dissappointed with its outcome. This government reeks with elitism that it even legislated the restrictions that will systematically discriminate against those with average IQs and those with inferior primary education,” Spark argued.
They posited that restrictions such as the required accreditation of local universities and colleges (LUCs) which perennially suffer from inadequate funds cannot meet state standards due to their lack of facilities. This will automatically bar their enrollees from gaining access to the student loan program and receive much needed subsidies to cover books, gadgets and other expenses needed to pursue their studies.
The CHEd announced late last year that only 23 of the 118 LUCs are accredited further disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of indigent students who rely only on the initiatives of local government units and their meager resources.
The groups accuse the CHEd of keeping the list of accredited LUCs under wraps, further contributing to the apprehension of many students and their parents.
“These restrictions not only mock our unalienable right to education but also confirms that Duterte’s universal access to education program is at best a misnomer,” said Jade Lyndon Mata, Spark’s spokesperson, also currently enrolled in a LUC.
Meanwhile, Shara Mae Landicho of Kaisa UP and co-convenor of FEW laments that while RA 10931 boasts of quality education in its title, it does not mention anything on how to achieve this and how students can avail of it.
“The entire budget for tertiary education of 2018 is monstrously inadequate to accomodate all students, much more provide quality education. If the CHEd’s own data is to be believed, the standard cost per student is 31,904 pesos and if multiplied with the total number of Filipino college students which stands at more than 3.58 million next academic year, 114.52 billion pesos is needed to recognize the rights of all students to quality education. This is a far cry from the alloted 58.7 billion pesos by Congress”.
“This does not yet include the cost of educational expenses and the cost of living allowance which RA 10931 is also said to cover,” she clarified.
FEW together with senior high school students plan to hold demonstrations this week to urge the CHED to release the documents and put to rest the uneasiness of many.#
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