By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
To ensure accessible quality education in the new autonomous region in Mindanao, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), together with leading Philippine universities, will partner and engage with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Transition Authority.
CHED Chairman J. Prospero De Vera III, in a statement, said that this agreement was finalized when he met with BARMM Minister of Education Mohagher Iqbal at the Royal Mandaya Hotel in Davao City recently.
De Vera explained that under the agreement, CHED and top Philippine universities “will provide technical assistance to the BARMM and the colleges and universities under its jurisdiction.”
Particularly, CHED and other top universities will provide assistance to BARMM to ensure the inclusion of private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the BARMM in the CHED/Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) Registry of qualified HEIs for RA 10931.
“This will allow these private HEIs to apply and avail the benefits of Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) for their students under Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act,” De Vera said.
“Under RA 10931, students enrolled in private HEIs in cities and municipalities where there is no state university and college (SUC) or local university and college (LUC) can receive up to P60,000 annual educational assistance from the government,” he added.
De Vera added that CHED and other leading universities in the country will also “capacitate the BARMM in monitoring the compliance of HEIs with standards for quality education” and will “assist the BARMM in developing a database of poor students and children of MILF combatants so that they can be included in the government’s provision of TES.”
RA 10931, De Vera explained, prioritizes students whose names are in the Listahanan 2.0 of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the grant of TES. “Many students in the BARMM are not included in the database because of the inaccessibility of their communities or due to the armed conflict,” he said.
De Vera added that HEIs offering Expanded Tertiary Education Equivalency and Accreditation Program (ETEEAP) programs in Mindanao will also be mobilized “to help the children of MILF combatants complete their undergraduate degrees.”
CHED, De Vera explained, will mobilize the leading Philippine universities to provide technical assistance to the BARMM. In particular, the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology will be tapped for engineering and technology; Mindanao State University-Naawan for fisheries; University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB) College of Public Affairs and Development for governance, project development and monitoring; UPLB College of Agriculture, Central Mindanao University and University of Southeastern Philippines for agriculture; University of the Philippines-Manila College of Public Health for community health care delivery systems; – University of the Philippines Diliman School of Urban and Regional Planning and UP Resilience Institute for technical assistance to local governments in planning and development; and Ateneo de Davao for continuing adult education.
Meanwhile, De Vera also lauded the efforts of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. in linking CHED and BARMM to “ensure education services are prioritized in the area.” The leadership of Galvez, he added, was “instrumental because he discussed with CHED the need to assist the BARMM even before the Bangsamoro Transition Authority was constituted.”
The CHED and BARMM have constituted a Technical Working Group (TWG) to work on the details of the agreed partnership. The CHED TWG members include UniFAST OIC Executive Director Atty. Carmelita P. Yadao-Sison, and CHED Directors Dr. Maximo C. Aljibe, Dr. Nelia A. Alibin, and Corinna O. Cabanilla.
De Vera said that CHED is assisting the BARMM “consistent with the policy of President Duterte that all young Filipinos must have access to quality education and that no qualified student is denied access to education on account of poverty.”