Solon to CHED: Fast-track free college implementation

MANILA A party-list lawmaker on Thursday urged the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to fast-track the implementation of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.

1-Ang Edukasyon Rep. Salvador Belaro Jr. said CHED, along with the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) board, only has two to five months to execute the law's implementing rules and regulations (IRR) including the needed mechanisms and procedures.

Belaro noted that most state universities and colleges (SUCs) still have June as the start of this academic year, while some SUCs are shifting to August as school opening.

"It is now incumbent upon the CHED and UniFAST to make up for valuable lost time and do a full court press," he said.

"It might make things easier to make all the SUCs start their academic year in August. CHED chairs the governing boards of all SUCs and through that position, they can convince the SUCs to shift to August," he added.

He urged CHED to create an online portal allowing the public to monitor the progress of the law's implementation in real-time down to the regional officel level of the agency.

"CHED and UniFAST should have learned by now from the mistakes in how the K to 12 Transition Program was done. They had better get it all right this time around because 900,000 SUC students will be affected if they bungle this," he said, alluding to previous reports that CHED has failed to release the living allowances of some 9,500 K-12 Transition Scholars.

Belaro also noted that while the IRR of the free college education is about to be published soon, UniFAST failed to comply with the October 2017 deadline for its publishing.

He stressed the need for accountability for UniFAST's failure to meet the deadline.

" It is now March 2018, six months after the deadline. Now I understand the CHED and UniFAST board have had rough months while Dr. Patricia Licuanan was CHED Chairperson, but the law did set a deadline and UniFAST failed to meet that deadline," he said.

"People in the UniFAST Secretariat must be held accountable and liable," he added.

Source: Philippine News Agency