19 March 2018 | news release
As CHED embarks on fully implementing the free college education in SUCs law, I now ask CHED OIC Prospero de Vera and his fellow Commissioners, to consider and study:
(1) the establishment of a higher education version of the current DepEd senior high school voucher system; and
(2) create a CHED Learner Information System that would dovetail with the LIS of DepEd;
(3) the issuance of Education Bonds to finance the multi-year infrastructure and service facilities upgrading of the SUCs, especially those with very old and obsolete structures.
Electronic Student Vouchers
The CHED knows the SUCs have limited admission capacity. SUCs cannot accept all students who apply for slots because there are a finite slots, so to still be able to give other Filipino youths access to free or at least significantly state-subsidized education, a higher education voucher system like that of the DepEd for SHS is the best option we have so far.
We could use the same voucher system and processes the DepEd uses or we can build a similar or even better system which colleges and universities can have access to.
There are already precedents for a voucher system for higher education: the GASTPE and the ESC. ESC is Education Service Contracting system and the GASTPE is the Government Assistance to Private Education. But these are old systems which would need updating, so CHED must update, upgrade, or overhaul as needed. I suppose a law is needed to make this happen, so I expect CHED to send to us a draft bill.
The CHED LIS is needed now that we have the PQF or Philippine Qualifications Framework. Extending the DepEd LIS to the CHED and TESDA is logical progression given that the PQF is in place. That LIS is the database we need for the PQF.
A key element of the DepEd LIS is the LRN or learner reference number, which is simply put, the student number of every student in the basic education system. I believe those students should carry that same reference number when they move on to technical schools, colleges, and universities. That LRN can be attached to the student number the tertiary schools give to their students. This way, the CHED LIS can keep track of all students. This is needed for the PQF.
The challenge now to the CHED is to extend that LIS and the LRNs to the higher education system. I assume this will need a budget, so I expect CHED to submit a multi-year budget for this. The CHED can also seek foreign grants for it, to lessen the load on the future years’ GAA.
Lastly, many of our SUCs have very old buildings and other facilities. The need is so great but most budget requests from SUCs for capital outlays are not included in the GAA because the GAA cannot support those requests. The appropriate solution is the issuance of Education Bonds.
This idea is not new, but I am reiterating it because it has become absolutely necessary. The SUCs cannot be left behind while the Duterte administration implements its Build, Build, Build infrastructure program.
We must modernize the facilities of our SUCs so that we can generate even deeper economic development, particularly in the countryside.
On the Education Bonds, the CHED must work with the Department of Finance, which is in-charge of all matters on the issuance of government bonds. This coordination should happen soon. I suggest the convening of a SUCS Capital Outlays Summit where we can work on the major details of the proposal to be submitted to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez. (END)