PRESIDENT Arroyo has ordered the Commission on Higher Education to draft a flexible, “socially sensitive” tuition payment plan for all state colleges and universities.
In her speech before a national convention of the Sangguniang Kabataan in Sta. Rosa town in Laguna, Mrs. Arroyo also asked CHED to review the no payment, no exams policy.
“I have issued an executive order for the Commission on Higher Education to instruct all state universities and colleges to devise a flexible, socially sensitive tuition fee payment plan. Rigid tuition payment rules of state colleges and universities cannot be allowed to sabotage the great educational agenda of our administration,” Mrs. Arroyo said.
CHED also has to reform the no payment, no periodic examination policy that is currently being applied, the President said. “This policy is one of the main reasons young students from poor families drop out from state universities and colleges. This has to change to ensure decent graduation rate from SUC enrollees.”
Mrs. Arroyo said she also instructed administrators of the Students’ Assistance Fund to expand its coverage to include monthly stipends and subsidies for transportation, laboratory and research expenses, and book allowance.
Also yesterday, President Arroyo signed a law easing the rules of employment of students but limiting their work period to 52 days a year.
Republic Act 9547 expands the coverage of the Special Program for Employment of Students and opens more employment opportunities to poor students in private companies as well as local government agencies at salaries not lower than the minimum wage.
In the original SPES Act of 1992, companies employing at least 50 workers were the only ones allowed to hire students. The minimum has been lowered to 10 employees.
Under the SPES, 60 percent of the salaries of students will be paid in cash by the employers, while the remaining 40 percent will be provided by the government in the form of education vouchers which can be used to pay for tuition and books.
The SPES is open to all qualified high school, college, vocational students or even dropouts, between 15 and 25 years old.
Under the law, poor but deserving students may be employed during Christmas and summer vacations but the employment is limited to only 15 days.
Students in tertiary, vocational, or technical schools may be employed at any time of the year as long as they will work from 20 to 52 days only.
The new law also removes the threshold amount for maximum family income requirement, formerly pegged at P36,000, for students to qualify under the program.–Joyce Pangco Pañares, Manila Standard Today