October 7, 2018

The technical vocational education and training (TVET) programs of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) can now be availed of for free in all state-run technical-vocational institutions (STVIs).

State-run technical-vocational institutions or STVIs include state universities and colleges (SUCs), local universities and colleges (LUCs), TESDA Technology Institutions (TTIs), and LGU-run training centers that offer training programs under the TESDA Unified TVET Program Registration and Accreditation System (UTPRAS).

According to TESDA Director General/Secretary Guiling “Gene” A. Mamondiong, the Implementing Guidelines have been approved and signed for Free TVET to be offered at STVIs under Republic Act No. 10931 also known as the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (UAQTEA).

RA 10931 promotes better access to quality tertiary education by providing for free tuition and other school fees in SUCs, LUCs and STVIs, paving the way for the establishment of Tertiary Education Subsidy and Student Loan Program (SLP), and by strengthening and appropriating funds for the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST).  RA 10931 was signed by President Duterte on April 3, 2017 and took effect for academic year 2018-2019.

Mamondiong says funds for the program will come from the Commission on Higher Education - Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (CHED-UniFAST) which will be granted by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

The CHED-UniFAST earmarked Php 6.9 billion for TESDA's academic year 2018-2019. The spillover budget will be used until September 2019.

The UAQTEA aims to provide adequate funding and such other mechanisms to increase the participation rate among those in all socioeconomic classes in tertiary education, provide Filipinos with equal opportunity to quality tertiary education in both private and public education institutions; and, give priority to learners who are technically-able and who come from poor families.

It will also ensure the optimized utilization of government resources in education and provide adequate guidance and incentives in supporting young Filipinos with their career choices towards the proper development and utilization of human resources.

Mamondiong says the program is open to all Filipinos and those who wish to avail may simply visit any STVI offering TESDA-registered programs.

The UAQTEA covers registered TVET programs listed under the TESDA Compendium as of July 2017.

All Filipino learners who are currently enrolled at the time of the effectivity of the Act, or shall enroll at any time thereafter provided that they comply with the admission and retention policies and existing residency rules of the STVIs, may avail of Free TVET.

Priority shall be given to deserving learners who come from the most recently updated Listahanan (National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction), poorest of the poor, orphans, dependents of informal settlers, rebel returnees/former rebels, rehabilitated drug dependents and their families, indigenous peoples (IPs), persons with disabilities (PWDs), people in the construction industry as a priority sector, internally displaced persons (IDPs), dependents of AFP/PNP Personnel Killed-In-Action (KIA) or Wounded-In-Action (W IA), and returning OFWs and their dependents.

The requirements for admission shall include: 10 years basic education and other entry requirement as stipulated in existing TESDA Training Regulations; NCAE/MATBN/YP4SC Profiling; and, other STVI entry requirements if applicable.

The following learners are not eligible to avail of the free TVET benefits: learners who have obtained a bachelor's degree; learners who are already holders of a certificate or diploma for a technical vocational course equivalent to National Certificate Level Ill or higher, unless the trainee is enrolled in bundled courses or programs in Level IV or Diploma; learners enrolled in TVET programs not registered under TESDA; and learners who voluntarily “opt out” of Free TVET.

Learners who are not eligible to avail of the Free TVET benefits shall be charged the training cost and other training-related costs determined by the TESDA Board that will be posted in the TESDA website together with the FREE TVET Registry of quality-assured training programs per region.

The benefits of Free TVET include: living allowance (P160/day), instructional materials allowance (P5,000/qualification), National Competency Assessment, starter toolkits and accident insurance.

Eligible learners who voluntarily “opt out” from Free TVET shall pay, during the enrollment period for the training program, the amount equivalent to the full

training cost and other training-related costs of the corresponding TVET program as determined by the TESDA Board.

Mamondiong clarifies that the Free TVET program is still not open to the corresponding private technical vocational institutes, but he says that it may be open in the following school year.