MANILA — Albay pilots this school year a PHP100-million technical-vocational training program under the newly implemented Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (UAQTEA) or Republic Act 10931. The program, which targets 6,300 youth beneficiaries, focuses on the tech-voc aspect of the new law.
Albay Second District Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, the principal author of RA 10931, recently launched the pilot program in Albay. He said the program aims to address the “diverse range of skills and learning styles” of his youth constituents, some of whom may not avail of the free four-year standard college courses. The pilot program targets some 8,300 student beneficiaries.
RA 10931, he explained, was designed to highlight not only the free four year college courses, but also technical-vocational education, which was not given equal focus previously, even with the Technical Vocational Education and Training or TVET program in effect.
He said his pilot program aims to improve, maximize and enhance the services of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in Albay, the Daraga Human Resources Development College, the Daraga Community College — as pilot institutions — and later on all other accredited LGU-run tech- voc schools in the province, under the UAQTEA.
The lawmaker said his office has allocated 5,000 slots for Training for Work Scholarship (TWSP) with a budget of PHP25 million; and 1,500 slots for the Special Training for Employment Program (STEP), with PHP15 million, administered by TESDA. Another 1,800 slots will also be allocated by June, with a budget of P54 million for the free TVET under RA 10931.
Salceda said giving special attention to the tech-voc aspect of the UAQTEA will allow the country’s educational program to address the emerging global trend that seeks to bring back and revitalize technical-vocational training in schools. Citing recent findings on global educational trends, Salceda said the focus on vocational training is hinged on the fact “that people have a huge and diverse range of different skills and learning styles.”
An article published by Forbes Magazine titled Why We Desperately Need To Bring Back Vocational Training In Schools notes that “Not everyone is good at math, biology, history and other traditional subjects that characterize college-level work… And not everyone goes to college.”
The latest figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show that only “about 68% of high school graduates (in the US) attend college; this implies that over 30% of them end up with neither academic nor job skills.” The same report said “almost 40% of students who begin four-year college programs don’t complete them, which translates into a whole lot of wasted time, wasted money, and burdensome student loan debts.” Salceda noted that the Philippines may share the same predicament, and free technical-vocational training would effectively address the issue.
Salceda formulated the UAQTEA based on the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education program he carried out when he was Albay governor for nine years before he returned to Congress in 2016. He subsequently filed the free college tuition bill that became RA 10931. Now Albay stands to benefit from that pioneering effort, with an initial batch of 30,000 enrollees under UAQTEA for the current school year. Of this number, about 17,000 will enroll in state universities and colleges (SUCs) and another 12,000 in local universities and colleges (LUCs).
“Free tuitions and miscellaneous fees in state-run universities and colleges, as well as TESDA-accredited technical vocational schools is no longer a dream. I am humbled to have been the principal author of its enabling law,” Salceda said.
There are 112 SUCs and 78 LUCs presently accredited by CHED and about 122 technical vocational institutions accredited by TESDA in the country. (Johnny Nuñez/PNA)