Official Statement of COCOPEA against current legislative proposals to improve access to higher education without improving quality.
The Coordinating Council for Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA) views with grave concern the currently proposed allocation of some eight billion pesos annually purportedly to improve universal access to higher education, without giving due attention to quality improvement.
The draft legislation in the Senate Committee on Education Culture and the Arts chaired by Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino proposes to use eight billion pesos annually either to subsidize the higher education of those who can afford to pay for it themselves in quality State Universities and Colleges, like UP, or to subsidize higher education in SUCs that are still struggling to achieve conditions of genuine quality higher education for the students they already have.
The former wastes taxpayers’ money; the latter wastes lives. The COCOPEA urges the Senate Committee to heed the mandate of the Constitution: “The State shall establish, maintain and support a complete, adequate, and integrated system of education relevant to the needs of people and society” (Art. XIV, Sec 2) through which “the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels” and ”accessible to all” is protected and promoted (Art. XIV, Sec 1). In this system the “complementary roles of public and private institutions in the educational system” (Art. XIV, Sec 4) are duly recognized.
This is the sentiment of educators both in private and in public higher educational institutions. The Ambisyon 2040 vision of the Duterte administration of general prosperity through social justice is consistent with the educational mandate of the Constitution to “inculcate” in our students “patriotism and nationalism, foster love of humanity, respect for human rights, appreciation of the role of national heroes in the historical development of the country” and “teach the rights and duties of citizenship, strengthen ethical and spiritual values, develop moral character and personal discipline, encourage critical and creative thinking, broaden scientific and technological knowledge and promote vocational efficiency” (Art. 14. Sec 3).
This vision must be supported by a robust Philippine educational system providing rational access to quality human and professional formation in implementation of a Philippine human power development plan. Providing more access to poor quality institutions is like providing more access to MRTs and LRTs that don’t run, or like putting more refugees on boats that sink from overloading. COCOPEA lauds allocating more taxpayers’ money for higher education. But in so doing it is imperative to:
Support the complete, adequate and integrated system of Philippine education; Provide not only for access to higher education but for quality higher education; Insist on quality assurance mechanisms that are consistent with the ASEAN Quality Assurance Network and the ASEAN Quality Reference Framework; Strengthen the complementarity between public and private higher educational institutions by equitable distribution of government funding based on the absorptive capacity of the higher educational institutions and their ability to deliver quality higher education; Based on this complementarity fund quality improvement both in public and private higher educational institutions; Encourage the private sector to invest more in quality education based on the recognized indispensable role of the private sector in the Philippine economy (Article II, Sec. 20).
We thank our legislators for engaging COCOPEA in crafting meaningful educational legislation. We continue to be willing to work closely with them towards a complete adequate and integrated system of public and private education responsive to the needs of our people. [Statement approved unanimously by the Presidents of the COCOPEA member associations , Dr Miguel Udtohan, ACSCU; Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ, CEAP; Prof. Dhanna Kerinna Rodas, PACU, Dr. Jose Paolo Campos, PAPSCU, and Dr. Horacio Montefrio, TVSA on Dec. 5, 2016.]
These sentiments were articulated in a fruitful first-ever meeting of the COCOPEA with the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) in Manila last November 22, 2016 under the encouragement of Sen. Bam Aquino and of CHED Commissioner Prospero de Vera. A follow-up meeting is scheduled for January 12-13, 2017 in Davao.