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By Dang Samson Garcia

THE House of Representatives completed the plenary scrutiny and debates on the proposed budgets of the State Universities and Colleges and the Commission on Higher Education for fiscal year 2024, amounting to P100.88-billion and P30-billion, respectively.

House Committee on Appropriations Vice Chairperson Rep. Janette Garin sponsored the CHED’s budget proposal, while Vice Chaipersons Rep. Francisco Matugas II, Raul Angelo Bongalon and Mary Mitzi Cajayon-Uy defended SUCs’ proposed appropriation.

Matugas said the SUCs’ P100.88-billion proposed budget is five percent less than the 2023 appropriation of P107.03-billion.

During interpellation, 4Ps Partylist Rep. JC Abalos said of the 117 SUCs in the country, 30 will receive lesser funding next year.

Matugas confirmed 30 SUCs will indeed get lower budgets in the range of 27 percent or a total amount of P11.45-billion.

“The budget of all our SUCs in the country was given by DBM, so iyung DBM po ang nag cut ng budgets nila. One of the reasons given by DBM is iyung mga Capital Outlay last year ay natapos na. Those that have been submitted for 2024 ay hindi po siya implementable kaagad. That’s why iyung decrease na malaki sa SUCs budget ay makikita po natin sa CO more than 60 percent, from P14-billion ginawa na lang P5 billion,” he explained.

Abalos also manifested there have been continuous cuts in the SUCs budget over the past two years.

“This can be attributed to the cost-cutting measures in place that are meant to save resources intended for education. However, budget cuts should be done with circumspect and due diligence since there is a widespread sentiment that most SUCs these days seem to be needing more funding to support their development just as the upgrading of facilities and additional support for the faculty and staff, as well as resources for research and development,” Abalos said.

Bongalon, meanwhile, noted 1.85 million students are currently enrolled in SUCs compared to 1.8 million in 2022.

Garin said total appropriation for CHED for 2024 is P30-billion and most of the funding totaling P29.7-billion or 95.8 percent will be new appropriation, the remaining 4.2 percent will come from automatic appropriation under the Higher Education Development Fund.

“Despite CHED’s relatively modest budget of P30-billion, it is crucial that we acknowledge the CHED’s vital role in shaping the future of our nation,” Garin said.

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raoul Manuel said CHED can still expand the enrollees’ slots n SUCs.

“Tingin natin para mas maayos ang paggamit ng government funds to help our students, I think iyung mga pondo na napupunta doon sa malalaking private schools, mas efficient sana na magamit ito sa ating SUCs,” he said.

Garin explained there are situations where no SUCs or local universities and colleges are available in certain areas and that’s actually where the government has to come in because the availability of higher educational institutions is a problem.

By Dang Samson Garcia

THE House of Representatives approved on third and final reading the proposed law institutionalizing the Expanded Tertiary Education Equivalency and Accreditation Program.

With 251 affirmative votes, the lawmakers approved House Bill 9015 or a measure that would allow undergraduate professionals to get a bachelor’s degree.

“The ETEEAP refers to the alternative education program in the Philippines that allows working professionals who were either unable to finish their college education or were completely unable to advance into college for different reasons to earn a bachelor’s degree without going through the traditional schooling method,” House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said.

Romualdez said the program was introduced in 1996 through Executive Order 330, signed by the late President Fidel Ramos.

The bill aims to strengthen the system of academic equivalency and accreditation at the college level, including the validation of the knowledge and expertise derived by senior high school graduates, post-secondary technical-vocational graduates, and college undergraduate students from relevant work experiences and high-level, nonformal training in order to harness their full potentials.

HB 9015 defines the program as an equivalency and accreditation pathway for obtaining a college degree for senior high school graduates, post-secondary technical-vocational graduates, and college undergraduates who have become professionals with an aggregate of five or more years of work experience.

The knowledge, experiences, achievements, and skills obtained by the undergraduates through their jobs shall be used to earn school credits that will be deducted from the total number of units or credits that they are required to earn before they graduate.

“Institutionalization of ETEEAP gives this laudable policy permanence, meaning more Filipino professionals will benefit from it in the coming years,” Romualdez said.

To qualify for the ETEEAP, an applicant must be a Filipino citizen, at least 23 years of age, with at least five years work experience.

The Commission on Higher Education shall be the lead agency in the implementation of the provisions of the proposed law.

By Dang Samson Garcia

THE House of Representatives approved on second reading House Bill 9015 or the proposed Expanded Tertiary Education Equivalency and Accreditation Program Act.

In his sponsorship speech, Committee on Higher and Technical Education Chairperson and Baguio City Rep. Mark Go said that people with proven competency should have access to educational opportunities to realize their full potential and prepare for higher career paths.“

We all know that the acquisition of knowledge and skills does not only take place within the confines of the classroom,” he said.

The ETEEAP is an equivalency and accreditation pathway for obtaining a bachelor’s degree for high school graduates, postsecondary technical-vocational graduates, and college undergraduates with at least five years of professional experience.

Go said that institutionalizing the ETEEAP as an alternative learning program will allow workers, employees, professionals, and other undergraduate adults with acquired competencies to obtain a degree by recognizing their work experience, knowledge, abilities, and expertise as school credits.

HB 9015 was principally authored by TINGOG Party-list Reps. Yedda Marie Romualdez and Jude Acidre.