Despite being disappointed over President Rodrigo Duterte's failure to mention it as a priority measure in his second State of the Nation Address, three senators remain optimistic the Chief Executive will still sign into law the measure that provides free college education in State Universities and Colleges.
Senators Bam Aquino, Sonny Angara and Nancy Binay expressed hope that the President will prioritize the measure that will give more Filipinos access to a college degree and a brighter future.
The proposed measure on the free college tuition only lacks the signature of the President.
“We must prioritize education and rise above politics to give more Filipinos access to a college degree,” said Aquino, a Liberal Party senator and principal author of the bill.
Angara, vice chairman of the Senate education committee, said that the bill will empower young people as it will remove a major hindrance to tertiary education
Binay voted in support of the measure, which will provide full tuition subsidy for students enrolled in SUCs, during the deliberations in the first regular session of the higher chamber last March 2017.
Meanwhile, to address the declining reading habits of Filipinos, the United Nations Children’s Fund called on parents to take time to read to their children for them to develop their love of reading.
Unicef Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer Martin Porter stressed the important role of parents on their children especially in developing healthy habits such as reading.
To bring back the habit and love of reading in young people, SM Cares has partnered once again with Unicef together with National Book Store and Vibal Publishing to stage the book reading event which coincides with the Book Reading month.
SM Cares Director of the Program on Children and Youth Royston Cabunag said the love of reading is developed early on and parents play a key role in its development.
“Research have shown that children whose parents read to them and who themselves read regularly develop the love of reading. This is the reason why parents should make time to be with their children, read to them so that it becomes habit-forming,” he said.
Cabunag said they have been staging the book reading event for the past nine years as part of their commitment to uphold and promote the rights of a child.
“SM Cares has always been for the protection of children and support of their rights and one such right is education. Through this event, we are able to promote literacy and encourage them to develop their love for reading at an early age,” he said
During the event, some 100 Grades 1 and 2 students from the Andres Bonifacio Elementary School in Pasay City attended the book reading conducted by television actor Martin del Rosario, Bb. Pilipinas Intercontinental 2016 Jennifer Hammond and Porter. The children were also given books and school supplies by NBS and Anvil.
For Grade 2 attendee Dave Cruz, the event has encouraged him to continue reading, be it his school books or comics or magazines. “I love to read because through it I learn and I will continue to do so, so that I can have better grades,” Cruz said in Filipino.
But for Maureen Alexandra Ramos-Padilla, NBS Managing Director, reading does not only improve one’s academic performance but enhances one’s personality and appreciation of one’s self and of other people.
“We believe in the power of reading. It is through the wonders of books that we get to different places, meet new people and widen our imagination and develop creativity. Through books we get to learn many new things from history, to fantasy to magic to science. And we advance this advocacy every year through our partnership with SM,” she said.
Experts believe that the development of a reading habit among the youth is an important feature towards a literate, progressive and caring society because reading encourages learning and develops creativity that leads to new ideas
The National Book Development Board (NBDB) noted that Filipino Non-school book (NSB) readers remain high at 80 percent which means that four out of five Filipino adults still read books and other materials.
However, the NBDB said this figure is a decline from the 90 percent in 2003 and 83 percent in 2007.
While the same study did not pinpoint any reason for the decline, experts were one in saying that social media, television and the new lifestyle among young people have contributed to their waning interest in reading.
Aside from the activity at SM Mall of Asia, simultaneous book reading events were also held in the other 65 SM malls in the Philippines and 7 in China as well as select SMDC Malls and SM Cherry Malls in Metro Manila. The event was held in partnership with Unicef, National Bookstore, Vibal Publishing and Anvil.
SM Cares is the CSR arm of SM Prime Holdings, Inc. Its advocacies include Programs on Persons with Disabilities, Children and Youth, Women and Breastfeeding Mothers, Environment Sustainability, Senior Citizens, Social Entrepreneurship and Overseas Filipino Workers (SM Global Pinoy).