SENATOR Ralph Recto warned that thousands of college students face forced vacation due to P11.6-B cut in the budget of Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
“Delikadong ma-endo ang pag-aaral ng daan-daang libong mga estudyante sa kolehiyo kung matutuloy ang balak na tapyasan ng P11.6 bilyon ang budget ng Commission on Higher Education (CHED) para sa taong 2020,” said Recto.
Recto lamented that instead of diplomas, government will be handing out dismissal slips saying the budget cut for tertiary education is a ticket to a forced vacation for many public and private college students.
“There are many kinds of leave a student can avail of, but a government-imposed “tuition-subsidy holiday” should not be one of them,” he said.
“Okay lang sana kung hindi pa sila naka-enroll sa kolehiyo; kung papasok pa lang. Pero karamihan naka-enrol na, prodded by a government guarantee that if they study hard and maintain good grades, they can keep the scholarship,” the senator added.
For this year, CHED was given a P52.43 billion while in the proposed 2020 budget it was 23 percent lower or P40.78 billion.
The bulk of the CHED budget (about 80 percent) is for the implementation of the program mandates of Republic Act 10931, or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education (UAQTE) .
For the current year, the UAQTE budget is P42.5 billion. The biggest component of this is the Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES), which, for this year, is P25.28 billion, to fund 708,993 beneficiaries in 5 major assistance programs.
But for 2020, the proposed UAQTE budget is P35.36 billion, a deep P7.12 billion cut.
On top of this reduction, is the obliteration of P2.6 billion for the Tulong Dunong Program.
The CHED is thus appealing for the restoration of the P10.35 billion cut in its UAQTE budget.
Otherwise, the continued schooling of 175,260 students under the Student Financial Assistance Program, 1,932 medical scholars, and between 115,352 to 199,920 students who benefit from the TES will be in peril.
“Ito ay ang sa CHED lamang. Hiwalay ang budget nito sa budget ng 111 na State Universities and Colleges, na ang P64.86 billion na proposed appropriations for 2020 ay mas mataas lamang ng 1/5th of 1 percent sa pondo nito sa taong kasalukuyan,” Recto stressed.
There are no easy solutions to this problem of underfunding. Congress is not a mint that can just print money. But by raising this issue, I hope that both houses will find ways on how to maintain the funding status quo.