Sponsorship Speech: Iskolar ng Bayan Act

SPONSORSHIP SPEECH
on S.B. No. 93 or the Iskolar ng Bayan Act of 2014

Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Chairperson, Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture
June 4, 2014

Mr. President, esteemed colleagues,

While our nation experiences rapid economic growth, our standard of education must be able to keep up and provide a proficient and well-educated workforce. Higher education opens up numerous opportunities for individuals to uplift their lives and become productive members of society. However, the unfortunate fact is that a college education is out of reach for majority of Filipinos.

According to the Department of Education, our public high school system produces close to 2 million graduates each year.[1] But out of forty-five (45) students who graduate from high school, only twenty-six (26) will enter college.[2] Further, the 2010 Annual Poverty Indicators Survey shows that sixteen percent (16%) of the estimated thirty-nine million Filipinos, aged six (6) to twenty-four (24) years old, are Out-of-School-Youth (OSY). The survey reveals that the primary reasons for this are the high cost of education, and because the youth are employed or would rather search for employment. It is thus evident that quality higher education must be made more accessible to the students.

Mr. President, in response to this need, I rise to sponsor Senate Bill No. 2275 under Committee Report No. 47, or the Iskolar ng Bayan Act of 2014, which aims to increase access to quality education to alleviate poverty and promote the intellectual well-being of the youth. Under this bill, the top ten (10) public high school students of their graduating class shall be accorded automatic admission to state universities and colleges (SUCs) of their choice within their province or nearby provinces, depending on the size of the SUCs and their course offerings. In addition, these students will also be given scholarship grants. This will cover all the SUCs, with the exception of the University of the Philippines, due to its institutional autonomy as the national university.

The Iskolar ng Bayan Program provides a big incentive for high school students to work hard and excel in their academics in order to rank within the top ten of their graduating class and be afforded the benefits of this measure. Deserving but underprivileged youth will then be able to complete their college education. It ensures that meager resources will not hinder the crème de la crème of our public high school system from pursuing higher education. The top ten graduates of our 7,917 public high schools will be rewarded with a guaranteed college education in our 112 SUCs – reputable institutions committed to delivering quality higher education. These gifted and hardworking youth are meaningful investments not only for our SUCs, but for the nation as a whole.

Mr. President, the State is given the constitutional mandate to protect and uphold the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels. This bill, aimed at reducing social and economic inequalities, is one such measure that makes higher education more accessible to deserving youth. I earnestly seek for its swift passage in this chamber. Thank you.

[1] As of 2011.
[2] September 2013. Philippine Poverty and Education profile published by the University of the Philippines School of Economics, as cited in

Related links: Committee Report No.47

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