A party-list lawmaker has opposed the move of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to cut the budget for student assistance by P325 million.
Rep. Eulogio “Amang” Magsaysay of the Alliance of Volunteer Educators party-list decried the slashing of the allocation for the CHED’s Tulong Dunong program, a scheme for graduating high school students who need to maintain a general weighted average of at least 80 percent in their third year and at least 80 percent in the first three grading periods in their fourth year.
The scholarship can be availed of by persons with disabilities (PWDs), dependents of solo parents, members of cultural minorities hill tribes or senior citizens.
“We should fight for the right of more students to finish college. We all should have that opportunity, and this is the responsibility of the state as parents of us all. These scholarships are a means by which many of our youth are given opportunities to improve their lives and that of their families,” Magsaysay pointed out.
Sen. Grace Poe earlier called for the institutionalizing of sound government programs for education such as state scholarships. She said Congress should maintain, if not increase, the 2015 allocation for the Maintenance and other Operating Expenses (MOOE) and capital outlay (CO) of state universities and colleges (SUCs), especially those in poor regions.
Poe said the government should make quality education affordable and accessible, increase the youth’s economic empowerment and ensure their meaningful political participation.
The senator lamented that the Maintenance and Operating Expenses (MOOE) of 59 SUCs were reduced. Of the 59 schools, the poorest regions that suffered the biggest budget cuts were Tawi-Tawi College of Technology and Oceanography (from P32.4 million in 2015 to P16.6 million next year) and Mindanao State University (from P418.8 million to P274.2 million).
SUCs in Western Visayas, such as the Iloilo State College of Fisheries, and those in Eastern Visayas whose infrastructures were leveled by Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 had the biggest reductions in their budgets.
The total MOOE cut for the 59 state schools is P477.8 million.
“Our young population is our greatest resource, so it only makes sense to invest in them,” Poe said.