Key to PH development: Free public college education improves lives

Free higher education is key to the development of the Philippines as it is important to invest in the future of the youth.

This was emphasized by Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Officer-in-Charge J. Prospero De Vera in his speech at the Nationwide Information Caravan for Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act in Muntinlupa City on Wednesday, July 25, 2018.

De Vera said free higher education could help its beneficiaries land good jobs which would help improve the quality of their lives.

“The higher your level of education and achievement, the higher the employability, the higher your income, and therefore the better your ability to raise a family… you can raise your children better, you can give them all the opportunities and your children will also have higher levels of educational achievement,” De Vera said.

Citing a study where women who have acquired higher education tend to marry later in life, De Vera explained that provision of free higher education changes the mindset of Filipinos.

“The higher the levels of educational achievement of women, the later they marry, so the best family planning program is education because she is given more options in life… the later women marry, the fewer children they have and the better they educated their children,” De Vera said.

“So, what we’re doing is really change the mindset in the Philippines because before our mindset is higher education is not free and if you need help the government will give you scholarships…but now, public higher education is free and if you still need financial assistance, government will give you additional subsidy so it’s really a 360-cage in the philosophy education.” De Vera said.

De Vera said shared many government officials and authorities in higher education were opposed to the idea of free public higher education before.

“Ang isang argument ng marami, sabi nila, pag ginawa mo na na libre ang higher education, ang sina-subsidize mo, hindi yung mahihirap (Many argued that if you make higher education free, you are not subsidizing the poor), they said you are actually subsidizing those who can afford to pay.”

Recalling his response to the opponents of the measure, de Vera explained that students enrolled in state universities and colleges (SUCs) are the ones who would truly benefit from free higher public higher education.

“Let us not use UP (University of the Phillippines) as basis because it does not represent the state universities and colleges in the country. Sa UP ang pinag-aawayan, parking space. Magpunta ka sa mga (In UP, [they are] fighting about parking space. Go to the) SUCs, there are children of minimum wage earners, there are children of farmers or fisher folks and their only chance to get higher education is to get in the state universities and colleges all over,” De Vera said.

De Vera urged everyone to help in the full and proper implementation of Republic Act 10931 because its effects on the country’s development may not be visible in the near future.

“We will not feel the impact of this now, but 10, 15, 20 years from now, with the new graduates that are products of this law, will become Filipinos who are better educated then will train, then will easier to employ, 10-20 years from now, they will be the engines of the growth and modernization of this country,” De Vera said.

De Vera said the only ones who will instantly feel the impact of the law are the parents of students who benefit from free tuition and miscellaneous fees and students who are receiving Tertiary Education Subsidy from CHED.