CHEd very slow in releasing scholarship funds
THIS REFERS to the news article titled “Duterte may ask CHEd chair to quit” (News, 6/16/16).
The report may have conveyed that Dr. Patricia Licuanan, chair of the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd), is now resolute, after long delays, to distribute the remaining P1.23 billion in scholarship funds to help 391,817 poor college students. She was quoted as saying that the amount “had been fully obligated with an assurance that the beneficiaries will be paid.” Unfortunately, in dispensing scholarship money even among identified qualified recipients, the CHEd takes inexplicably a very long time. Thus, Licuanan’s announcement is not reassuring at all.
Aside from the undistributed amount for students’ scholarships, the 2014 findings of the Commission on Audit include the following: excess, double or multiple payments made to 703 students (P3.44 million); cash advances that cannot be verified to have been received by the beneficiaries (P108 million); delayed release of allowances by up to 14 months to at least 25,442 students; and checks worth P9.3 million that were not claimed because the beneficiaries were not notified (“P1.2-B fund for poor students unspent—COA,” News, 1/13/16).
College teachers, not just students, have suffered as much from the CHEd’s inefficiency. Some of them are my friends and colleagues in the university where I teach.
To substantiate my claim, the CHEd has a laudable project of providing scholarships for graduate degrees (MAs or PhDs) and research grants for faculty members. Unfortunately, many of the recipients, up to the present, are experiencing delays in getting due financial support (tuition, stipend and other allowances) from the CHEd. So they have to scout for other sources of funds to run their experiments.
The CHEd’s inefficiency is such that I know of one who gave up on his project out of sheer exasperation. Some faculty scholars, especially those coming from the provinces, have incurred debts and fallen prey to loan sharks just to be able to pay their tuition and other related expenses—still completely uncertain, despite repeated follow-ups, as to when they would get their reimbursement from the CHEd.
College teachers take utmost interest in pointing out the inefficiency and poor governance of the CHEd under Licuanan because we taxpayers deserve better service from government. We also underscore the fact that in the 2016 budget, the CHEd got an allocation of P8 billion to provide the necessary safety nets for college teachers who will be affected by the full implementation of K-to-12. We are gravely concerned that the poor absorptive capacity of this agency, coupled with what we perceived as ill-conceived safety nets and poor implementation, will spell more disaster for affected K-to-12 teachers and nonacademic personnel.
We support President-elect Rodrigo Duterte‘s intention to decrease, if not end “red tape” altogether, and to increase the efficiency of government service. Thus, whoever will be appointed or Licuanan herself—if she chooses to complete her term of office up to the end of 2018 (“CHEd execs oppose Lapuz ‘appointment,’” News, 6/18/16)—must shape up and address the unreasonable snail’s pace performance of the CHEd. With the coming Duterte administration we pray that genuine change will come to the CHEd posthaste.
—RENE LUIS TADLE, MA, associate professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Santo Tomas, and lead convener, Council of Teachers and Staff of Colleges and Universities of the Philippines
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