Duterte’s sincerity in vow to make free tertiary education
accessible to Lumad youth
Samahan Ng Progresibong
February 3, 2018
QUEZON CITY – Youth
activists reacted to statements of President Rodrigo Duterte on
Thursday to lumad parents of not needing to worry about sending
their children to college now that free education will be provided
under his administration’s Republic Act 10931 or the Universal
Access to Tertiary Quality Education Act.
In an emailed statement,
the Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (Spark) together with KAISA UP
claimed that the President “was merely weaving lies and giving false
hopes to parents in order to douse the growing social discontent and
frustration towards his administration which promised and
deliberately failed to deliver lasting social change”.
Under RA 10931, which is
expected to be implemented by the upcoming academic year, tuition
and other school fees in state and local universities and colleges (SUCs
and LUCs) are to be subsidized by State for qualified students.
There is also a Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) to augment the
other costs of tertiary education.
“Far from what state
officials have been peddling, there is a huge disparity between the
supposed intention of the law and its actual contents”.
Spark’s spokesperson, Jade
Lyndon Mata said that under the law, “free education remains to be
not free, inaccessible, and mentions nothing on the quality of
education, totally unreflective of the law’s title”.
“The mere existence of the
Student Loan Program (SLP) in the law attests that tertiary
education remains to be not free, even profiting from students with
long-term loans to be collected by the government through SSS and
GSIS contributions,” Mata added.
“These loans and the
voucher system only reinforces the existence of private higher
education institutions (HEIs) and ensure their profit while having
no aim to further capacitate public learning institutions,” he
added. “Duterte even that Lumad youth can obtain free education in
schools like Ateneo, La Salle and San Beda”.
Student leader and
chairperson of KAISA UP Shara Landicho also pointed out that a big
percentage of students from poor families will be unable to access
the perceived gains of the law.
She said that “given the
current situation of the entire education system, those who came
from private or science high schools are the ones most likely to be
awarded free education. This scheme will not allow the students from
poor families who need it most to avail of free tuition”.
“Another glaring flaw of
the law is the absence of an automatic appropriation provision to
fund the law annually, it leaves its implementation unstable and
questionable, similar to the Reproductive Health law. This
inadequacy is a major and glaring flaw if it genuinely seeks to
provide universal access to those who wish to pursue tertiary
education,” she asserted.
The groups concluded that
without major amendments to the Free Education Law, Duterte’s
statement to the lumad parents “remains to be empty words meant to
simulate his administration is reform-oriented and sincere.
“Come enrollment time,
many will be staggered that they shall not be able to access the
much-vaunted Free Education of Duterte”.
They likewise called on
all students to unite and challenge the veracity of Duterte’s
sincerity in providing “free tertiary education for all”.