By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
To educate the youth on federalism and other issues on Charter Change, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) will be tapping State Colleges and Universities (SUCs) nationwide to conduct a series of forums, workshops, and meetings with students as audience.
‘We’re going to mobilize SUCs for the Charter Change issue,” said CHED officer-in-charge Prospero De Vera III on the sidelines of the launch of first Philippines-United Kingdom Transnational Education Conference and Education Fair in Makati yesterday.
The state university network via SUCs, De Vera said, is the “most logical network for information dissemination” for the proposed constitutional reform. Currently, there are 112 SUCs in the country with over 300 campuses.
This initiative, De Vera said, was among the “marching orders” of President Duterte. “All of those campuses have a venue for meetings, for forum, etc. so we want to tap that whole network for the discussions to support the constitutional committee,” he added.
De Vera also revealed that he has “been in talks” with former Chief Justice Reynato Puno in the previous weeks “to offer state university network” to the Charter Change committee.
Aside from the facilities, De Vera said another advantage of doing the initiative in SUCs is that the audience is the students. “[We’re] targeting the most important sector which is [the] young people” who, he explained, are the “ones who are have the most at stake.”
“By doing it through SUCs, you get to talk to them [youth],” De Vera stressed.
De Vera noted that by tapping the state university network as a venue for talks on federalism, the government can also tap into the experts in the area. “This idea of getting people from Metro Manila to talk about federalism all over the country is not a very efficient system,” he said. “There are a lot of very good experts in all state universities and colleges [and] experts in particular fields that can be tapped,” he added.
Tapping experts in the regional level, De Vera said, can be very strategic for the government. “One frustration that a lot of people have about discussions on federalism is that we’re only talking about the political side,” De Vera said.
De Vera said that tapping regional or local experts would pave the way for deeper discussions on the constitutional reform that is being pushed by the current administration. These regional experts are also expected to shed more light on the shift to federalism and how it would affect the delivery of government programs and other social services – particularly in education, among others.
“The more substantial side such as how will education look like, how will social work look like, what are the economic realities in the region when you talk about federalism,” De Vera said. “The ones who can provide answers to that are actually the universities in the region and their experts,” he added.
This initiative to support the shift to federalism, De Vera said, may be launched in March.
De Vera also noted that the University of the Philippines (UP) is launching its own initiative. Since he was appointed the OIC of CHED, he also presides over University’s highest governing body or the Board of Regents (BOR), as its Chair. “We want to make sure that public universities are part of the Charter Change discussion,” he added.
UP, De Vera said, will be assisting Puno by “providing space for experts to brief the members of the body to do research” among others. The UP Campus in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig is being targeted for such purpose.