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NUSP: Underutilized funds prove CHED, gov’t insincere to make college free

Press Release
August 2, 2019

QUEZON CITY – CHED was unable to utilize P20.3 billion or half of the P39.9 billion budget for RA 10931 in 2018.

CHED cannot argue that this is a natural outcome of newly implemented laws. Right from the start, we can observe that the Duterte administration has been insincere in providing free education to the Filipino youth.

For instance, President Duterte signed the law on August 3, 2017, but the final version of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) was released only on March 26, 2018. This seven-month delay was caused by the insistence of the government to “make best use of funds” and “target the most needy students” by inserting layers of restrictions as to who can avail of free education.

CHED has even gone so low that it ordered SUCs and LUCs to tighten their admission and retention policies, thereby limiting the number of students who can benefit from free education. As the report of the Commission on Audit (COA) reveals, there is more than enough funds to cover all students in SUCs and LUCs. On top of that, all students of public higher education institutions essentially deserve the right to free and quality education.

Also, the law already has funding for January to December 2018. Yet the Duterte administration stubbornly pushed that funds be used starting June 2018. This has deprived students enrolled in SUCs and LUCs of one semester of waived fees: not just tuition, but also other school fees.

While CHED has not fully utilized the funds for free education, it permits continued charging of fees in SUCs and LUCs. It was quick to release a list of around 140 other school fees that may be collected from students, contrary to the spirit of the free education law.

Even associations of private higher education institutions decried the very late implementation of the Student Loan Program and the Tertiary Education Subsidy, which are two other components of RA 10931. These programs could have provided immediate relief to students in private schools who suffer from annual school fee increases approved by the government itself through CHED.

The COA report confirms the cry of many students nationwide: that CHED has been making it very difficult for the youth to gain access to scholarship funds and subsidies of the government. In the case of the Student Financial Assistance Programs (StuFAP), only P18 million out of P342 million, or a tiny 5.27 percent, was utilized for fiscal year 2018.

CHED and the Duterte government implemented RA 10931 only because of strong pressure from students, youth and advocates of accessible education for all. Unfortunately, after President Duterte has taken credit for the law, his administration is now dozing off in its task to make sure that collection of school fees stops.

The various excuses of CHED for underutilization of funds cannot hide the reality that it has been functioning as Duterte’s agency for inaccessible and market-driven education.

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