By PNA and U.S. News Agency / Asian
The committee on higher and technical education of the House of Representatives has approved a bill that seeks to provide free college entrance examinations to underprivileged public high school students belonging to the top 10 percent of their graduating class.
Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, chairman of the committee, said committee members have unanimously agreed during the hearing on Tuesday to come up with a bill that would in effect adopt House Bills 6262 (authored by Angara) and 5186 (authored by Rep. Sigfrido Tinga), which requires all public and private higher education institutions to exempt deserving public high school graduates from paying entrance exam fees.
Angara said data from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) showed that enrollment even in state colleges and universities since 1999 shows a decelerating trend, weakening to negative 1.2 percent growth rate in 2004-2005, despite the lower cost of public education.
He pointed out that the substitute bill the House committee shall consolidate aims to ensure that poor but deserving high school graduates are given equal opportunities in applying for college admission to higher education institutions by removing the first hindrance at the entry level, such as the prohibitive cost of entrance examinations.
“Considering that more than 26.5 percent or 3.8 million Filipino families are living below the poverty line, access to tertiary education for bright children of these families would almost be impossible, especially if they do not have the means to even pay for an entrance examination,” he stressed.
If passed into law, Angara said the proposed measure would benefit more than 1.5 million enrollees yearly in the country’s 111 state universities and colleges (SUCs), and even the larger size from the private as well as local colleges and universities throughout the country.
He tasked the committee secretariat to immediately draft the consolidated bill that will be sponsored on the floor for plenary deliberations.