MANILA, Philippines – The Chairperson of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) admits that the government is tightening its belt and encourages government-owned universities to engage in income-generating projects to sustain their operations.
These are hard times all around and government is really tightening its belt. I understand why we cannot give a bigger budget to higher education, CHED Chairperson Dr. Patricia Licuanan said in an interview with the Philippine Information Agency (PIA).
The Philippine government, in its attempt to balance the budget has slashed off funding for the countrys top higher education institutions, including the largest state university, the University of the Philippines (UP) and Philippine Normal University (PNU), the top teacher-training institution. Each had a 20.11% and 23.59% off their budgets for the year 2011 respectively.
We have realized (and CHED is moving onto this), that SUCs have a lot of assets but they dont know how to use this well, she said. We are undertaking a project where we will have an inventory of the assets of SUCs, then we will get experts to help these SUCs develop these assets so they can be a bit more economically sustainable institution. Licuanan says. She adds further that SUCs (state universities and colleges) cannot rely anymore totally on government. In fact, some SUCs already have income-generating projects, and they are allowed to use this income for their own operation. she said further.
Militant youth and students, however wasnt convinced.
Joseph Invierno from the Youth for Nationalism and Democracy (YND) said Dr. Licuanan actually admits indirectly that the SUCs are no longer a priority of the government. By leaving the SUCs to fend for their own, they are giving warrant to the administrations of the SUCs to further boost commercialization, and with commercialization, education ceases to be a public service and it becomes a commodity, as they can raise tuition fess and charge other miscellaneous fees for their maintenance and operation expenses.
They said that the government is tightening its belt, yet they allocate most of the budget to debt payments in which some are onerous and illegitimate. Invierno adds. His group, YND has been calling the government to prioritize the education sector and other social services over debt payments.
Invierno ends Apparently, with this admission by the CHED Chairperson, the so-called way to the straight path reforms by the government of Noynoy Aquino is a big joke, as it blatantly abandons the responsibility of providing education to the youth which would be a potential cornerstone for change and development. ###