The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has approved the release of about PHP3.41 billion to fund the free education of around 74,262 tertiary education students
DBM Secretary Amenah Pangandaman approved the issuance of a Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) for the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority’s (TESDA) utilization of the fund for implementation of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education (UAQTE) Act.
In a statement on Tuesday, the DBM said Pangandaman approved on Jan. 26 the SARO, which is chargeable against TESDA’s regular budget under the fiscal year 2024 General Appropriations Act (GAA).
“Its corresponding Notice of Cash Allocation (NCA) in the amount of PHP1.77 billion for the first quarter of 2024 was, likewise, released,” the DBM said.
“Approximately 74,262 learners for the UAQTE program for the school year 2024 will benefit from the allocated PHP3.41 billion fund,” it added.
The DBM said the approved funding will cover the beneficiaries’ tuition and miscellaneous fees, accident insurance, trainee provision, internet allowance, starter tool kits, national assessment fees, and other school charges.
Republic Act (RA) 10931 or the UAQTE Act promotes universal access to quality tertiary education by providing free tuition and other school fees in state universities and colleges (SUCs), local universities and colleges (LUCs), and state-run technical-vocational institutions (TVIs).
The law also establishes the Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) and Student Loan Program, and strengthens the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education.
Under RA 10931, all Filipino students who will enroll in courses leading to a bachelor’s degree in any SUCs and LUCs will be exempted from paying tuition and other school fees.
The TES, on the other hand, is a grant-in-aid program of the government that supports the cost of tertiary education of Filipino students who enroll in their first undergraduate-post-secondary program in SUCs, LUCs, private HEIs, and TVIs.
Pangandaman said the release of funds will give less privileged Filipino students better opportunities to pursue college degrees.
“Not everyone may be able to afford higher education. But I believe this should not be the case, most especially to those who are deserving— those who have the heart and passion to learn and who wish to put their talent and intelligence for the greater good,” she said.
“Education, more than a privilege, is a basic human right. It is our gateway for better career paths, higher salaries, and an overall improved quality of life,” Pangandaman added. (PNA)