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By Dang Samson Garcia)

SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go co-sponsored a measure that aims to further enhance access to quality education in the country.

Senate Bill 2441 or the Free College Entrance Examinations Act mandates private higher education institutions to waive entrance examination fees for certain students.

Under SBN 2441, Filipino students graduating in the top 10 percent of their high school class will be eligible for free entrance exams in private higher education institutions.

However, this will only be applicable if the student’s family income falls below the poverty threshold set by the National Economic and Development Authority.

Go cited the Constitution’s provision that the State shall protect and promote the right of citizens to quality education at all levels and to take appropriate steps to make education accessible to all.

This principle, he added, was bolstered with the passage of Republic Act 10931, the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, which exempted eligible college students from paying tuition and other fees.

“Through this law, we saw how a single scholarship can be an instrument of change, altering not just one life but the destiny of an entire family,” Go said.

However, he said that some students can’t afford to pay entrance exam fees.

“Kung maipasa natin ito, mas mabibigyan natin ng pagkakataon ang mga qualified and deserving students natin na makakuha ng kalidad na edukasyon,” the senator said.

By Dang Samson Garcia

SENATOR Christopher Bong Go lauded the approval of Senate Bill 2200 or the Basic Education Mental Health and Well-Being Promotion Act as he stressed the urgency of addressing mental health issues among young learners.”

This is not just a piece of legislation; it is a lifeline for our young learners in the face of a mental health crisis that cannot be ignored,” Go said.

“It is our moral and civic duty to respond with urgency and compassion. We must refuse to let another young life be lost due to untreated mental health issues,” he added.

The bill aims to establish a Mental Health and Well-Being Center in public and private K-12 schools.It also supports the Department of Education’s learning recovery plan and creates new permanent positions for Guidance Counselor and Guidance Associate.

The senator said that the bill will help destigmatize mental health problems and send the message that “it’s okay to talk about mental health, to seek help, and to prioritize one’s well-being.”The measure will raise the salary grades of guidance counselors.”

Mental health is an integral component of holistic health,” Go said. “When our young learners struggle with their mental well-being, it affects every part of their lives—their academic performance, their relationships, and their overall happiness.”

By Dang Samson Garcia

SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go backed the country’s five-year plan to combat malnutrition, especially among children.

Go described the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition or PPAN 2023 – 2028 as a pivotal advancement in the country’s battle against malnutrition.

“Ang paglulunsad ng PPAN 2023-2028 ay patunay sa ating kolektibong hangarin na itaas ang kalidad ng buhay ng ating mga kababayan, lalo na ang mga bata,” Go said.

The program outlines a comprehensive approach to tackle malnutrition, focusing on three major interventions: increasing the availability and access to nutritious food, promoting social and behavioral change for better feeding practices, and improving access to quality nutrition services.

These interventions include the establishment of food gardens, regulation of unhealthy food, offering maternal health service packages, and integrated maternal and child health nutrition services.

The plan has identified 34 provinces as priority areas for these interventions, including Leyte, Sulu, Negros Occidental, and many others.

The senator also said that this initiative must build upon the solid foundation laid by the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte in addressing hunger and malnutrition while overcoming the adverse effects of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa, who also chairs the National Nutrition Council Governing Board, emphasized the importance of nutrition in the early stages of life.

“Nutrition is most critical in the first 1,000 days of life — from day one of pregnancy and up to the second year of birth of a child. If left neglected, poor nutrition results in child stunting, which is irreversible, and more importantly, poor brain development,” Herbosa said.

Go echoed Herbosa’s sentiments, saying that the problem of malnutrition should not be neglected because if unsolved the problem could lead to a lifetime of challenges.

Under the Duterte administration, the government enacted several laws and launched various programs aimed at combating malnutrition.

Among these were the School-Based Feeding Program, which provided nutritious meals to undernourished public school children, and Republic Act No. 11148 or the First 1,000 Days law, which focused on maternal and child health during the earliest days of life.