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Private SCUs “Tug of War” a good thing for the cash-strapped government

July 30, 2007

Everything in this country seems structured. From the economic sector to political and education sectors, it seems that everything is prearranged.

The Philippines is now lagging behind its neighboring countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, China and Taiwan in terms of education.The Philippines is now lagging behind its neighboring countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, China and Taiwan in terms of education.
After President Arroyo resumed her presidency in 2004, several fiscal reforms were carried out like the legislation of E-VAT, sin taxes and the intensification of tax collection. There would have been more reforms had it not been for the prevailing political schism.

The government badly needs more money to fuel its Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan that extends up to 2010. The main goal of the Plan is to halve poverty and create wealth. The education sector is one of the major parts of the Plan.

Arroyo planners admitted that the “quality of Philippine education has been deteriorating continuously.” They blame state colleges’ and universities’ continued dependence on the government and the rising population as two of the problems attending the crisis of public education.

The Commission on Higher Education is also doing its part to address problems in higher education. Under its new memo, CHED Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 22, series of 2007, the CHED aims to evaluate higher education institutions (HEI) identified as Autonomous and Deregulated.

Those HEIs that do not meet the commission’s criteria will have their status revoked.

One big problem pertains to budget. Studies and reports claim that education sector indeed lacks enough funding, a situation that confirms our country is lagging behind Asian countries like Mongolia, Malaysia and Indonesia.

This is one reason why this coming school year UP students are going to pay more than twice their usual tuition fees. A study conducted by CHED reveals that the government is paying over P60,000 per UP student, which is by far higher than the tuitions of over 70 percent students enrolled in private schools. And the government has no assurance that when UP students graduate, they are going to stay and serve the country. This reminds me of the outrageous comment made by Justice Sec. Raul Gonzales on the ‘iskolar ng bayan.’ Although I believe it is the duty of the government, which is the servant of the people, to ensure compliance with the mandate ‘Education for All.’

Private colleges and universities, on the other hand, are doing their best to increase their population. Most private SCUs now embark on aggressive marketing campaign to attract more students. They need to address the continued enrolment decline not only because better enrolment speaks of more income, but because it is in compliance with the mandate of the CHED.

The commission is empowered to select and identified HEIs to be granted autonomy and deregulated status based on the following criteria: (1) long tradition of integrity and untarnished reputation; (2) commitment to excellence; and (3) viability and sustainability of operations. Under item number 3, it is a must that enrolment trend shows continuous increase, and the only allowed acceptable range is within 5 percent to 10 percent. If, however, the institution opted to scale down, the acceptable cut is 8 percent.

The competition is only among private schools. Perhaps this is a systematic way to reduce the number of students going to SUCs because the government, which is currently experiencing fiscal problems, is the one paying for their tuitions.

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