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CHED eyes ‘rolling’ opening of classes

Rainier Allan Ronda - The Philippine Star
CHED eyes ârollingâ opening of classes
Both CHED and the Department of Education have been considering their options on when to schedule the opening of classes for the 2020-2021 school year in view of the extended enhanced community quarantine in most parts of the country until May 15 to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019
Philstar.com, file

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) is considering a “rolling” opening of classes for colleges and universities for academic year 2020-2021.

CHED chairman Prospero de Vera III yesterday told ABS-CBN news that under such a system, the decision on when to open classes would be given to higher education institutions and would depend on the capability of schools.

“There is a proposal for a rolling opening of classes. Those universities ready with a flexible learning system, they can open in August. For those who have difficulty, they can open later,” De Vera said.

Both CHED and the Department of Education have been considering their options on when to schedule the opening of classes for the 2020-2021 school year in view of the extended enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in most parts of the country until May 15 to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque earlier said the National Economic and Development Authority had recommended the opening of classes in September.

Even after the lifting of the ECQ hopefully by May 15, there will be a general community quarantine which still prohibits mass gatherings to ensure the prevention of a new breakout of COVID-19 cases.

De Vera also opposed the proposal of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to make a 35 percent budget cut on all government agencies to raise additional funds for the government’s war against COVID-19.

De Vera told ABS-CBN news that he appealed to the DBM to spare the budget of CHED from the fund-raising move.

De Vera had warned the government that cutting the commission’s budget by that much will adversely affect not only the operations of state universities and colleges but also the implementation of the government’s free college education programs. 

Despite being the implementing agency of the universal access to quality college education law, CHED was dealt a P11.65-billion budget cut for 2020, with the universal access and financial assistance programs getting the biggest deductions, as provided by the free college tuition law enacted three years ago.

The CHED was alloted P40.784 billion this 2020, which is 22.22 percent lower than its budget of P52.435 billion for 2019.

The DBM said yesterday that it will review the CHED appeal to exempt the free tuition program from the government’s belt-tightening measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We (will) review and evaluate it and then reply to them in due time,” Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado said.  

De Vera said that National Budget Circular No. 580 issued by the DBM may affect the implementation of Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.

The circular provides the guidelines for the discontinuance of programs, activities and projects to generate funds that will be used for measures against COVID-19.

It also states that the DBM will no longer release 35 percent of programmed appropriations of agencies under the 2020 General Appropriations Act effective April 1, 2020.

According to De Vera, the circular could cut funds specifically for the reimbursement of tuition and miscellaneous fees of state universities and colleges (SUCs), and the provision of Tertiary Education Subsidy.

He said that if this is implemented, SUCs may not be able to implement many programs, or worse, may be forced to collect tuition to generate income.

De Vera said the CHED has submitted a letter to the DBM, presenting its position that SUC funds for RA 10931 should not be included in budget cuts. Mary Grace Padin

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