IF the government was able to spend P10 billion to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday said he sees no reason for the government not to fund the education of all students enrolled in state universities and colleges (SUCs).
According to Marcos, the government only needs to allot P15billion for scholarships and grants-in-aid for students who could contribute to the country after they finished their studies.
He said he already studied the 2016 proposed budget and found that P15 billion is enough to pay for free tertiary education.
Marcos added that there is a need to implement a large-scale scholarship/student aid program in the country and institutionalize reforms in the educational system.
“That is why we are looking at the budget and looking at what we can do for education.
That is why I have been proposing these measures that some may see as radical but actually aren’t. These are the measures we need to push. These are the initiatives that we need to fight for,” Marcos said in his speech before the ABAKADA Party List NCR/R Leaders Assembly held at the Lyceum of the Philippines last Sunday.
The senator added that these initiatives would greatly benefit those who have the potential to succeed in life but are impeded by poverty and their inability to get an education supported by the SUCs.
The independent vice presidential candidate in next year’s elections earlier said the failure of the government to introduce programs and projects that would help improve the country’s education system is the reason why the country is facing many problems now.
Marcos said aside from providing free education, the government must also invest more in teachers not only providing higher pay but also making sure that they will be given regular retraining courses for them to cope with changes.
While additional school buildings, books and school supplies are also priorities, the government must also make sure the teachers are provided with the needed support that would also improve their knowledge, he added.
“There was a time when the Philippines has the highest literacy rate in all of Asia, the literacy rate at the time was 98 percent, where no Filipino was considered ‘no read, no write.’ Obviously, we can see that it has gone down drastically,” Marcos earlier said.
ABAKADA party-list Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz welcomed Marcos’ statement and said his group has been pushing the increase in funding not only for the growing college population in the country but those enrolled in technical/vocational or tech/voc schools as well.
“In addition, one of our initiatives has been the expansion of the student loan program to include more financial institutions to support the SUCs as this has been very effective based on the experience of the United States,” he said.