August 14, 2022 | 12:00 noon
MANILA, Philippines — As Filipinos continue to recover from the economic impact of COVID-19, Senator Manuel “Lito” Lapid is attempting to provide long-term personal loans to college students to help with their living expenses, including meals and expenses accommodation, transport, and internet and digital connectivity.
With the submission of Senate Bill 274, Lapid seeks to establish the College Living Expenses Financing (CLEF) program to support undergraduate studies for Filipino students of good academic standing. Depreciation begins one year after graduation or the end of the last semester of enrollment.
“Even though tuition is free for our students, I know there are still many who are struggling to get into college because they don’t have the financial means to support themselves while they’re in college,” Lapid said .
“This problem is felt even more by students who come from faraway places and need to travel and relocate to study. They must be able to have a source of funding for their housing, books and other expenses during their studies,” he added.
Lapid said that the bill, once enacted, would mandate the national government to set up a student loan loan guarantee fund to be provided by the Development Bank of the Philippines and the Land Bank of the Philippines.
He pointed out that while RA 10931, or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, is instrumental in making quality education accessible to all by providing free tuition and fee waivers for state college and university students, other factors contribute to the achievement of this hinder the desired goal.
One such obstacle is the cost of living and other education-related expenses, which discourage qualified students from families below the poverty line from considering higher education.
The CLEF program is a long-term personal loan program designed to cover the living expenses of Filipino college students, including board and lodging, living expenses, transportation expenses, subsistence expenses, uniforms and personal clothing, books and supplies, internet and digital connectivity, and other miscellaneous expenses.
The bill states that the CLEF program will be made available to all Filipino students who are either enrolled at the time the law becomes effective or who are eligible at any time thereafter to enroll in programs leading to a bachelor’s degree from a higher educational institution accredited by the Commission for Higher Education (CHEd).
Each eligible student is eligible for a maximum loan amount of P50,000 per semester and a maximum of P400,000, allowing for up to five years of college enrollment. The loan has a maximum term of 25 years and an interest rate lower than the prevailing interest rate, which is at the discretion of the disbursing financial institutions.
“It is the right of every Filipino to have the opportunity of a quality education and the right of every student to receive all the assistance that the government can provide. It’s a big deal that tuition is free in the country’s colleges and universities, but we know that college students have many other needs besides tuition to complete their studies. That’s where the loan I want to waive for our students comes in – a loan that can be given quickly to any student who applies, and a loan that doesn’t take much time because the interest on it is small.” , emphasized Lapid.
Under the bill, administration of the CLEF program is the joint responsibility of CHED – which processes and approves loan application requests from eligible students – and the disbursing financial institutions, which release funds based on an approved disbursement program agreed with the student.
Meanwhile, Sen. Loren Legarda submitted Senate Bill 242, or the Cultural Education Program (CEP) Act of 2022, to integrate Filipino arts and culture into the country’s education system.
“Our culture is the narrative that binds Filipinos, regardless of race, social class, or educational background, into a shared chronicle of tradition, trials, and triumph. It is our identity and therefore must be preserved and passed on to the next generation,” said Legarda.
Under the bill, the National Commission on Culture and Arts will work with the Department of Education, CHED, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Agency to formulate and implement plans and programs that integrate and integrate Filipino arts and culture into the national education system.
Legarda said a CEP will be created to develop and implement an expanded specialty program for the arts; Mainstreaming of indigenous knowledge systems, skills and practices through the institutionalization of appropriate Schools of Living Traditions (SLT) models in the formal education system; support DepEd’s K-12 program in both formal and informal systems and introduce culture-based technical and professional courses.
She said the government has taken concrete steps to address the need to protect the country’s intangible cultural heritage through the establishment of SLTs.
“However, our culture plays a fundamental role and function as the foundation of our nation. We must further develop our country’s unique and diverse cultural heritage through this measure,” she added.