DBM seeks P11-B budget increase for free tuition in state colleges

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has proposed an P11-billion budget increase for the free tuition program in state universities and colleges (SUCs) in 2019, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said on Wednesday, June 27.

Speaking at a convention of the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC), Diokno said that a total of P51 billion was allotted in the proposed 2019 national budget for the program – P11 billion higher than this year's allocation of P40 billion.

"The focus should be in producing an agile, competent workforce that is being demanded by a globalizing and aging world, not half-baked, unemployable graduates," Diokno said.

"Fortunately, our free tertiary education law has provided for safeguards for students coming from low-income families through its Tertiary Education subsidy component," he added.

The DBM said that of the P51-billion allotment, P44 billion will be released to the  Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and P7 billion to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

Republic Act Number 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act was signed into law in August 2017. The law took effect starting school year 2018 to 2019. (READ: 8 things you need to know about the free tuition law)

The law covers the tuition and fees of students enrolled in 112 SUCs78 local universities and colleges (LUCs), and all technical-vocation education and training (TVET) programs registered under TESDA.

Prior to the passage of the free tuition law, Diokno and the government's other economic managers opposed the measure, saying that it was "too costly for the government."

With a higher proposed allocation, Diokno told PASUC presidents and representatives to implement the "right mix of programs" for financially-challenged students who need it most.

"Invest in competent faculty – it accounts for more than half of student performance and more than nice buildings and smaller class size," Diokno said.– Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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