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Sen. Gatchalian to students: speak up for free higher education

Students at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City listen to a fellow youth raising points to candidates in this file photo taken during a senatorial leadership forum, Jan. 2016. (Photo by Mark Cayabyab)

Amid mounting opposition from powerful private school lobbyists, Senator Win Gatchalian is urging student groups to make their voices heard in the fight to institute a tuition-free policy in state universities and colleges (SUCs) through the passage of Senate Bill No. 198, the Free Higher Education Act (FHEA).

“I am calling on my friends and allies in the student movement to speak up in favor of the Free Higher Education Act. Strong grassroots support from student groups will be essential to the passage of this landmark legislation,” said Gatchalian, Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts, and Culture.

Gatchalian expressed optimism that student groups would heed the call to action to rebut criticism voiced by representatives of private HEIs and other stakeholders during the first hearing on FHEA held by the Senate Education Committee on October 26.

To give students an opportunity to give their input on the bill, Gatchalian said he would ask the Senate Education Committee to invite student group representatives to participate as resource persons at the next FHEA hearing.

“Students are the most important stakeholders of the education sector. We need to make the discussion about the tuition-free policy more inclusive by giving students an opportunity to be heard,” said Gatchalian.