MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino has signed a law providing scholarship benefits to poor but deserving students from public high schools.
Republic Act 10648, or the Iskolar ng Bayan Act of 2014, was signed by Aquino last Thursday after it was approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives on Sept. 23 and 24, respectively.
The measure – consolidated House Bill 4860 and Senate Bill 2275 – was passed by the 16th Congress under the leadership of Senate President Franklin Drilon and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.
Under the new law, all state universities and colleges (SUCs) are mandated to provide automatic admission and scholarship grants to the top 10 public high school students of their respective graduating classes.
A public high school with more than 500 graduates is entitled to one additional scholarship slot in SUCs for every 500 graduates.
The additional slots will be given to graduates whose ranks immediately follow the top 10 students and who will meet admission requirements for freshmen in the SUCs of their choice.
Agencies tasked to provide support are the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Department of Education (DepEd) and SUCs.
The CHED and DepEd have been instructed to come up with implementing rules and regulations within two months.
Appropriations for the law’s implementation have been included in CHED’s budget or that of the concerned SUCs in the annual General Appropriations Act.
The University of the Philippines System, however, is not covered by the Iskolar ng Bayan Act.
In an interview with The STAR, UP vice president for public affairs Prospero de Vera yesterday said the university – which has institutional autonomy as the national university as mandated by the UP Charter of 2008 – will not be covered by the new law.
UP has six constituent universities and an autonomous college, as well as various satellite campuses across the country.
De Vera said it would not be feasible for the university to admit all top ten graduates from public high schools as it would be more than the number of slots for incoming freshmen admitted through the UP College Admission Test.
More than 80,000 public high school students are expected to benefit every year with the new law. Only around 13,000 students qualify for admission to UP every academic year. – With Janvic Mateo, Marvin Sy
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