BAGUIO CITY — Around 30,000 poor members of the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) or Igorots in Cordillera will benefit from the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act of 2017, the regional office of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has said.
CHED-Cordillera Officer-In-Charge Ma. Geraldine Casipit told the Philippine News Agency in an interview Monday that Republic Act (RA) 10931, also known as the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education, will benefit the six major State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) in the region.
Benefitting from the program are the Ifugao State University in Ifugao; Mountain Province State Polytechnic College in Bontoc, Mountain Province; Kalinga State University in Tabuk City, Kalinga; Benguet State University in La Trinidad, Benguet; Abra State Institute of Science and Technology in Bangued, Abra; and Apayao State College in Apayao province.
Locals who are financially incapable of going to the cities to study opt to go to the state schools in their hometowns.
With the new law, Casipit noted, poor locals need not sell their families’ farms anymore just to get a college degree.
“Sa ilang taon kong pag-stay dito sa Cordillera, napansin ko kasi na napakaraming miyembro ng IP dito sa Cordillera na ngangailangan ng tulong pinansyal. Sa sobrang kahirapan, hindi sila makapag-aral. Pero sa initiative ni Pangulong Duterte, marami talaga ang matutulungan(In my several years of stay here in Cordillera, I’ve noticed there are lots of IP members, who need financial assistance. Because of extreme poverty, they cannot go to school. But with the initiative of President Duterte, a lot of them will get help),” Casipit said.
She said at least 5,000 students would be accommodated in each of the state colleges and universities in the region, but on certain conditions.
“Per SUC, may estimated tayong 5,000 na students, pero flexible yan gaya ng sabi ko kanina, kasi naka depende yan sa students namakakapasa sa admission policies ng mga SUCs natin, at syempre sa carrying capacity. (For each SUC, we estimate about 5,000 student beneficiaries, but like I said, that is subject to change, depending on the students passing the admission requirements and the SUC’s carrying capacity.) Students also need to comply with the retention policy,” Casipit explained.
She said the government project gives poor members of the IP get an education for a brighter future.
She added the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is coming up with a list of students, who could avail of the free college education.
“They will be checking the enrollees and make sure that those who can avail are classified as poorest of the poor,” she said. “We are appealing to our media partners and friends to help us disseminate this information, to help us inform the lower class of our society that they can go to school despite their poverty.”
Over the weekend, the organization Student Financial Assistance System (UniFAST) did an information caravan in the city to inform the public of the free college education in SUCs.
Lawyer Carmelita Yadao-Sison, UniFAST officer-in-charge, said earlier there are 112 SUCs and 78 Local Universities and Colleges (LUCs) all over the country, but the priority of the law are the poor students in SUCs.
LUCs are CHED-recognized higher education institutions established by the local government units.
Casipit said the national government has allotted PHP40 billion for the implementation of the free college education in SUCs, but the actual allocation would depend on the number of the enrollees who pass the admission policy of each SUCs.
In his recent visit in Mountain Province as guest speaker at the 47th commencement exercises of the Mountain Province State Polytechnic College (MPSPC), Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque informed parents that President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered the allocation of funds for the free college education in SUCs. The fund will cover the tuition as well as the miscellaneous fees of the students. Pamela Mariz Geminiano/PNA-northboundasia.com