The government seeks to make drug testing a requirement for all incoming college students, said Julito Vitriolo, the executive director and spokesperson of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
Vitriolo said an important pillar in the pronouncements of President Rodrigo Duterte is to come up with “Drug-Free Campuses” in the country.
“So, along this line, we had set-up some mechanisms, not only for random drug testing but also for making drug testing as an admission or possibly, retention in college,” said Vitriolo in a press briefing in Malacañang last week.
On drug-free campuses, Vitriolo explained, CHED is developing a policy that will make drug testing a requirement for admission in college.
He said that CHED is preparing higher education institutions (HEIs) for the implementation of drugs-free campuses by next school year or in 2018.
Meanwhile, Vitriolo said CHED is currently working on the possible implementation of the free tuition policy in state colleges and universities (SUCs).
Vitriolo said CHED is currently working with the Senate on the matter at the Bicameral level.
“We are looking at around P8 billion that will be utilized for the free tuition fee policy in the state universities and colleges,” he said.
Meanwhile, to broaden access of the poor but deserving Filipino students to quality higher education, CHED has lined up several projects such as the Student National Assistance Program or the Tulong Dunong, a student grants-in-aid for poverty alleviation, is supporting more than 200,000 beneficiaries, and for next year about 400,000 will be supported.
In gearing up universities for the future, CHED has implemented the Philippine-California Advanced Research Institute Projects (PCARI), which caters to high-end, high-level research projects that will aid the Philippines in leapfrogging in this area, especially in the development of the information technology infrastructure and in the health sector, according to Vitriolo.
“In the area of quality and excellence, we are gearing up our academic programs with international standards. A while back, we have become a provisional member of the Washington Accord, which is the accord that more or less govern engineering programs and institutions in the country and we hope to become a regular member of this accord,” he added.