MANILA, Philippines – Nais ni Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno na magkaroon ng nationwide screening sa mga estudyante na nais makakuha ng libreng edukasyon sa state-run universities and colleges (SUCs), sabay-sabing ang kasalukuyan implementasyon nito ay “unwieldy, inefficient, and wasteful.”
Nitong weekend, sinabi ni Diokno na kailangang suriin ang free college education program at dapat ang pamahalaan ay, “optimally allocate resources funded largely by taxpayers for education.”
“An indicator of wastefulness is the rising dropout rate. The proposed reform also aims to reduce the threat to the robust private school system,” aniya.
Sa pahayag, inilatag ni Diokno ang kanyang mga proposal. Kabilang dito ang:
— focus on strengthening the K-12 program;
— conduct a nationwide test to filter those who should be entitled to free education;
— allow those who passed the nationwide exam and are entitled to free education to use their entitlement (a four-year voucher) to enter or reject their assigned state university, and if the latter, choose an accredited private university; and
— reduce the number of existing SUCs over time through mergers.
Ang maitatalagang SUC sa mga estudyante ay ibabase sa kanilang mga grado.
“He may refuse to enroll in an SUC assigned to him and instead attend any government-accredited private university that will admit him. Of course, the voucher will be released on an annual basis and will be based on the satisfactory performance of the government scholar,” ani Diokno.
Sa pagpapalakas ng implementasyon ng K-12, sinabi ni Diokno na target nilang magbigay ng mas matibay na pundasyon para sa mahihirap, at bigyan ang mga ito ng “better chance of entering college, and completing the same.”
“That should be our focus. The other goal of the K-12 program is to prepare the student for gainful employment or higher education. Many are not interested to go to college; they just want better jobs,” sinabi pa ng Finance chief.
“These set of proposals are not perfect, but these could immensely improve the allocation of scarce government resources,” dagdag niya.
Nagpahayag din ng pangamba si Diokno sa sustainability ng programa, dahilan para kailangang idepensa ni Commission on Higher Education Chairperson Prospero de Vera ang programa kasabay ng pagdinig ng Kamara sa proposed 2024 budget ng ahensya.
Ani De Vera, ang pagbibigay ng libreng edukasyon ay “best anti-poverty strategy” dahil mas pinalakas ng Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education ang access ng mga Filipino sa college education.
“We’ve been implementing free higher education for five years now. The results are out there to see. Number one, participation in higher education has significantly increased—41% of university students are actually enrolled in universities vs. 30+% in the previous years. That’s a significant increase,” naunang sinabi ni de Vera.
Nakatanggap naman ng samu’t saring reaksyon ang panukala ni Diokno.
“Multi-millionaire families should pay tuition so that more resources can go to support poorer families and students,” sinabi ni Senador Sonny Angara.
“I don’t understand why Secretary Diokno is so ‘stingy’ when it comes to investing in our country’s ‘human capital’ and yet liberal and magnanimous when it comes to ‘flood control’… If at all, it is this allocation that should be reviewed and revisited,” ayon naman kay Senador Francis Escudero.
Sa kabilang banda, suportado naman ni Senador Koko Pimentel ang panukala ni Diokno.
“I can see the point of Secretary Diokno. Free college education should be for those 1) who want to go to college 2) who have the aptitude to study in college 3) who can secure a competitive slot in college (determined thru competitive examination). Secretary Diokno has a very valid point,” anang senador. RNT/JGC