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Gatchalian calls for improved implementation of free tuition law

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Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday urged concerned agencies to improve the implementation of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act or the free tuition law.

He appealed to the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) and Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) to ensure that the manpower in charge of rolling out the free tuition law has adequate technical capacity.

As of December 3 last year, 1.2 million students from state universities and colleges and local universities and colleges benefited from the free tuition law or Republic Act 10931.

Gatchalian, co-author and co-sponsor of the law, cited a discussion paper by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), which identified unclear and delayed guidelines as “birthing pains” in the implementation of the landmark education reform measure.

According to the study, this resulted in issues on disbursement, billing, and the processing of documentary requirements.

A component of the law that suffered from a lack of clear guidelines is the Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES), which provides additional funding for education-related costs.

“Dahil sa lawak ng pagbabagong dulot ng free tuition law sa ating sistema ng edukasyon, naging isang malaking hamon para sa CHEd ang unang taon ng pagpapatupad nito,” Gatchalian said.

“Ngayong malinaw na sa atin kung aling mga bahagi ng programa ang kinakailangang ayusin, mahalagang matutukan natin ang mga ito upang maging mas maayos na ang pagpapatupad ng batas sa mga susunod na taon,” he said.

He added, “Kung walang malinaw na pamantayan sa pagpapatupad ng programang ito, ang ating mga mag-aaral ang pangunahing maaapektuhan at marami ring kabataan ang maaaring hindi makinabang sa libreng kolehiyo.”

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