When ‘Quality Education’ meets ‘Money’

Beginning Academic Year 2015-2016, students of old and new faces are welcomed with a major overhauling of the organizational structure of the whole university extending even far and wide to its satellite campuses. From last school year’s six colleges, students are caught up by a rather ‘irrational’ merging of the different colleges, departments and programs to form only three colleges—the College of Education & Arts; the College of Tourism, Home Science & Agriculture; and the College of Criminology, Computing Science & Health Sciences.

Accordingly, the merging of the colleges and programs was to meet the minimum four degree programs as agreed and approved by the Administrative Council (ADCO). This was also in compliance to the National Budget Circular (NBC) Numbers 404, series of 1989, and Numbers 548, series of 2013, of the Department of Budget Management (DBM), as recommended by the Commission on Audit (COA).

For the information of everybody, these DBM policies are the rules and regulations governing the grant of Representation Allowance and Transportation Allowance (RATA) to selected government officials such as university officials like Vice Presidents, Deans of Colleges, Directors of Centers, Institutes/Services and Satellite Campuses, and Department Heads to cover related expenses in connection with the actual performance of their respective functions.

On the other note, while the move was in response to the recommendation of COA, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), however, says the otherwise. During the Regional Quality Assurance Team (RQuAT) Validation Visit, CHED Regional Director Dr. Romulo Malvar raised the restructuring of the colleges as one factor that made some programs ‘incompliant’ with CHED Policies, Standards and Guidelines (PSG) which is a requirement for the issuance of Certificate of Program Compliance (COPC). The issuance of COPC is a requirement before board programs of state universities and colleges are authorized to operate. The COPC also spells if the board programs have met the CHED standards on ‘quality education’. Without COPC, however, warrants the program to be invalidated.

Now, here comes the dilemma when ‘quality education’ meets ‘money’. The DBM being the government’s finance sector that regulates the allocation of budget to universities, and the CHED being the governing agency of all higher education institutions who oversees that the student’s right to quality education is met. A question, then follows, which among the two is the right authority to comply with? Is it the ‘finance policy’ of the budget department? Or is it the CHED PSG guidelines for quality education?

As the organization that speaks the voice of the studentry, the Upland Farm, the official student publication of the university, collectively takes the stand of upholding the quality of education over just from a mere ‘money’ issue. Article XIV of the Philippine Constitution provides for the protection and promotion of the rights of all citizens to quality education that shall also meet the needs of the people and society.

The restructuring of colleges effected some programs to be ‘incompliant’ with CHED PSG particularly on the aspect wherein the profession of the Dean of the College or Department Heads where the certain program is being offered is not in line with the discipline required of him/her. To quote the tag line emphasized by Dr. Malvar, “You cannot give what you don’t have.” Indeed, as the saying goes “You cannot teach what you do not know nor lead where you do not go.” If for instance, how can you expect someone who is not a graduate of your program or any other closely-related disciplines become you department heads or dean?

As the university envisions to be an Academic Centers of Excellence, meeting first the set international standards on quality education must come at hand. That is, adhering to pertinent authority so as not to jeopardize the constitutional rights of students to ‘quality education’. Under such legal circumstances that may arise, the right to ‘quality education’ must always prevail as expected from services of higher educational institutions.

On the other side, as state universities and colleges continuously provide ‘quality education’ to all Filipinos, concerned government agencies should likewise work out differences on the rules and regulations that are inconsistent with each other’s respective functions it carries. That way, it will not hinder the delivery of quality education to satisfy every student’s rights and to meet the needs of society. #

(This article was published as Editorial in the August-October 2015 Issue of the Upland Farm, the official student publication of Ifugao State University, Lamut, Ifugao, Philippines.)

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