By Mario B. Casayuran | Manila Bulletin
Quantity of state colleges and universities does not guarantee quality education.
Sen. Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. stressed this after seeking a three-year moratorium on the creation of new state universities and colleges (SUCs) and the conversion of existing state colleges to state universities.
The three-year hiatus would give Congress and the Commission on Higher Education (CHed) reasonable time to assess, monitor and upgrade the educational system of higher education that would truly meet the challenges of the changing times, Marcos said.
In his Senate Bill No. 13 seeking the moratorium Marcos noted that there were already 111 existing SUCs in the country and that proposals for the creation of new ones are likely in the pipeline.
Marcos acknowledged that SUCs are great help to the country as they educate those who are willing to study but could not afford the tuition fees in private colleges and universities.
He, however, noted that the unregulated propagation of SUCs is not matched with the corresponding increase in the budget for these institutions, thereby diminishing the quality of service that these academic institutions should be known for.
Marcos said there are even SUCs that were ‘’created for the vanity of politicians’’ or are not functional at all.
“The existing budget for these SUCs should be directed to a select number of SUCs that are proven to produce exceptional graduates and to conduct innovative researches,” he said.
He said the whole process of creation or conversion of SUCs has become so politicized, that in the end, lawmakers have sometimes completely disregarded the CHED guidelines for high standards of educational system, just to provide SUCs in their respective congressional district.
Marcos pointed out that as early as October 7, 1999, former President Joseph E. Estrada issued a memorandum addressed to the CHED reiterating the policy that his administration does "not in any way support the creation of new state universities and colleges and the conversion/upgrading of existing state colleges into universities."
Despite this policy recommendation for the moratorium, the creation or conversion of SUCs persisted, he said.
“The basic questions that should be resolved now are: Are the SUCs really providing quality education for our students? Is the Philippine educational system, through the SUCs, competitive enough to meet the challenges of the global educational environment? Is the national government allocating enough money to fund the budgetary needs of all the SUCs in the country?” Marcos asked.
Until these questions are answered properly, the government must impose a moratorium in the creation or conversion of SUCs, he said.