A veteran lawmaker asked how the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) will spend the P29-billion fund for teaching and non-teaching personnel affected by the K to 12 Program.
Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian, a majority member of the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture and on Higher and Technical Education, called on the CHED to explain to legislators how the proposed P29-billion transition fund for teachers affected by the K to 12 Program will be spent.
“Congress needs to know exactly where the money will go. CHED has yet to give the breakdown of the P29-billion fund,” Gatchalian said.
The said fund will be used to support teachers who will possibly be laid off due to the implementation of the new basic education curriculum, which seeks to make the country’s students competitive with those from other countries who have long been implementing a 13-year basic education program.
CHED Commissioner Maria Cynthia Rose Banzon Bautista has been quoted in news reports as saying that the fund will also be used to financially assist teaching staff who will receive lower salaries due to decreased enrollment in colleges during the transition years.
Gatchalian has already given his full support to the Aquino administration’s educational reform program, saying its benefits will outweigh the costs.
“We have to keep our eyes on the prize, which is an education system that rivals the best systems in the world in terms of equal access and learning outcomes,” the Valenzuela City lawmaker said.
He added: “In all honesty, we will have to make certain sacrifices today if we want to reach our goal tomorrow. We need to use foresight, and we need to exercise strong political will to push ahead with challenging but meaningful programs such as this.”
Gatchalian, however, emphasized that CHED must fully disclose the details of the said transition fund for the sake of those who will be included in the massive displacement when the first batch of students enter Grade 11 in 2016 and Grade 12 in 2017.
“CHED has to be transparent about the usage of the fund so we in Congress can scrutinize it,” Gatchalian said. “We are accountable for where the taxpayers’ money goes, and there is a lot on the line here. Specifically, more than 55,000 teachers and another 23,000 non-teaching jobs will lose their jobs, and this will translate to a financial loss for their respective families.”
According to House Bill No. 5493, also known as the “Tertiary Education and Transition Fund of 2015”, the transition fund will be sourced partly from the Bureau of Treasury’s Higher Education Development Fund, and state universities and colleges.
The transition fund will also come from taxes collected from higher education institutions, incremental dividends and receipts from state-run firms, and the national government’s savings. The Fund can also be supported by private donations.
CHED officials are hopeful that H.B. 5493 will be passed by Congress by October. (Monica Cantilero)