Senator Richard J. Gordon on Monday described the Affordable Higher Education For All Act, or Senate Substitute Bill No. 1304, as a beacon of hope that encourages Filipinos, especially those who are underprivileged, to aim high and achieve a better future for themselves and their families.
The bill aims to accelerate universal access to tertiary education by providing for a tuition subsidy and financial assistance to students enrolled in state colleges and universities, private higher education institutions and technical-vocation institutions..
“It provides a beacon of hope, malinaw na malinaw na makikita ng mga kapos-palad na kahit sila ay kapos-palad, yung kanilang palad ay pwedeng gamiting sabay-sabay magbuhat at maitulak ang gulong ng palad. Pag naitulak nila ay magkaroon ng pagkakataon ang kanilang mga pamilya. Ang mga nasa grade school at high school ay madali nang makakapasok sa kolehiyo, paspasan ninyo, galingan ninyo, pagsikapan ninyo at wag yung isipin yung itinuro sa ating utak ng mga banyaga noong araw na kapag ikaw ay Pilipino, wala kang pag-asa, mahirap maatim ang pangarap. To aim high is what I think is the meaning of this bill,” he said in his privilege speech commending Senator Bam Aquino for pushing, with the help of other senators, for the passage of the bill.
Gordon, whose amendments during the deliberation on the floor were incorporated in the final draft of the proposed measure, was made one of the co-authors of the proposed measure.
“That is why I took great pains to make sure that I help craft this bill. I am happy that a young man, Senator Bam Aquino, had been able to steer this bill through the help of many colleagues. So congratulations are in order. Magkakaroon tayo ng progress o development, hindi lamang dahil nagkaroon tayo ng batas na ganito, ngunit dahil ito ay mararamdaman at magkakaroon ng kumpiyansa ang ating mga kababayan na piliting makapasaok dahil ngayon hindi na masyadong mataas ang mundo. Kaya na nilang abutin kung sila ay magsisikap,” he said.
Gordon also reminded the members of the Senate that quality education is the key; a college degree would be an empty title if the holder will not persevere to use it to attain a brighter future.
Thus, for him, ensuring that the country gets the best teachers is still the first step to having better and brighter students who will be able to work for the country’s development. “KAYA, bago tayo mag-congratulate sa isa’t isa, dapat nating tandaan, kung ikukumpara natin ang ating edukasyon, dapat nating malaman na ang susi ay kalidad na edukasyon. Anong silbi ng edukasyon kung ito ay parang titulo lamang na wala namang ibubuga? Kapag masipag, kahit walang kang edukasyong pangkolehiyo, may mararating ka,” he said, citing his own parents, who, despite both being only high school graduates, were able to provide good education to all their children and even to their numerous adopted children.
Hence, Gordon called on his colleagues to focus too on addressing the problem of teachers, the problem of children who are unable to go to school due to poverty and the problem of out-of-school youth.
“Tungkulin ng Senado na i-address yung problema sa teacher, yung problema sa mga bata na hindi makapasok dala ng kahirapan, at yung mga out-of-school youth. Kung magi-invest tayo sa edukasyon nila, hindi magiging bale-wala ang investment natin dahil magkakaroon ng pagkakataon ang ating bayan. Handa na ang demographic age natin ngayon na kapag ang ating batang populasyon ay bibigyan pa ng kakayahan, we can really zoom up to heights that have never been seen by this country since its inception. Magkakaroon tayo ng progress o development,” he stressed.
Statistics show that the Philippines has the right demographic age, having a high population of young people who can join the workforce and propel the country towards greater progress. But statistics from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization or UNESCO also show that 5.6 million children between the ages of seven to 15 will never see education and there are already a total of 1.6 million out-of-school youths in the country.