On Wednesday, September 20, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go co-sponsored Senate Bill No. 2441, or the “Free College Entrance Examinations Act,” which aims to further democratize access to quality education in the country.
The bill, under Committee Report No. 122, mandates that private higher education institutions must waive entrance examination fees for certain qualified students.
Drawing upon the 1987 Philippine Constitution, Go emphasized the government’s mandate to protect the educational rights of its citizens. He cited the Constitution’s declaration that “the State shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels and to take appropriate steps to make education accessible to all.”
This principle, Go added, has been bolstered over the past six years under the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte which enacted Republic Act No. 10931, the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, a landmark policy exempting eligible college students from paying tuition and other fees.
“Through this law, we saw how a single scholarship can be an instrument of change, altering not just one life but the destiny of an entire family,” Go said.
But despite these strides, Go pointed out the continuing problem of escalating costs that limit opportunities for underprivileged students.
He noted, “Iyong iba, walang pambayad ng entrance exam kaya hindi na lang sinusubukang mag-apply sa pribadong paaralan kung saan maaari din silang mag-apply ng scholarship. Nasasayang ang oportunidad para sa mga deserving na estudyante pero walang kakayahan.”
Under SBN 2441, Filipino students graduating in the top 10% of their high school class would be eligible for free entrance exams in private higher education institutions. However, this would only be applicable if the student’s family income falls below the poverty threshold set by the National Economic and Development Authority.
“Kung maipasa natin ito, mas mabibigyan natin ng pagkakataon ang mga qualified and deserving students natin na makakuha ng kalidad na edukasyon,” Go emphasized.
Go described the exemption from entrance examination fees as a mechanism that can help bridge the inequality gap and offer deserving students a shot at quality tertiary education. He supported this measure for offering “adequate assistance and equal opportunity to these students to pursue their dreams of obtaining a college education.”
In concluding his speech, Go expressed his gratitude to Senator Francis Escudero, Chairperson of the Committee on Higher, Technical and Vocational Education, for prioritizing this measure.
“Persistent efforts must be continuously exerted in order to give life to the constitutional mandate of raising the youth as partners in nation-building,” Go said.
Aside from this measure, Go, an advocate for better education quality in the country, co-authored and co-sponsored SBN 1864, or the Student Loan Payment Moratorium During Disasters and Emergencies Act. It aims to provide relief to students who have taken out loans but are unable to pay them back due to disasters and other emergencies.
Go also co-authored SBN 94, or the Teaching Supplies Allowance Act of 2022, which seeks to increase the annual “chalk allowance” provided to teachers to relieve them of the financial burden of purchasing school supplies for their classroom.
Also, Go has co-authored and co-sponsored SBN 1360 which seeks to expand the coverage of the Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) by amending RA 10931, or the Universal Access To Quality Tertiary Education Act.
Image credits: Senate PRIB