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Congress must tread carefully on cutting K-12 funding for free tuition law — CHED chair

MANILA, Sept 28 (Mabuhay) –Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairperson Patricia Licuanan said on Wednesday that Congress must take care in carving the K-12 program to provide funding for Republic Act No. 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.

In a press conference, Licuanan said, “Congress has to proceed really carefully here because this is a very good thing to fund and we all want it funded. But to take from another important program and then put it there, in the end, students also will suffer.”

CHED’s own K-12 budget to upgrade the skills of primary, secondary, and tertiary schoolteachers was already cut, though Licuanan is unsure if the amount was reallocated to the free tuition program.

“There are cuts also in CHED from the K-12 budget. I don’t know if that was justified by the free tuition but that is very important. The K-12 budget is used in this particular case for faculty to get higher credentials so that the quality of education may also improve,” she said.

About P30 million was stripped from the Department of Education’s school building program, particularly from unimplemented projects, and moved to the P40 billion fund the House appropriated from various agencies for the free tuition law.

“That is the approach. Tthey look at what departments have excess funds and that’s where we’re getting the money,” Licuanan said.

At least P51.4 billion is required to implement the free tuition law in state universities and colleges: P22.6 billion will be allocated to free tuition and other school fees, P7 billion for tech-voc education, P21.6 billion for tertiary education subsidy, P0.5 billion for the student loan program, and P100 million for administrative costs.

“We will probably ask P40 billion from Congress but we have to probably ask Senate for additional. If the bicam does not approve additional funds, then we may have to adjust the internal budget for the implementation,” she said on Wednesday.(MNS)

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