By Alexandria San Juan
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has contributed P15 billion to augment funds for state-led initiatives in responding to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, as well as to provide economic relief to those who are most affected by the health crisis.
CHED Chairman J. Prospero De Vera III said the amount was from the unreleased appropriations of the Commission for its several programs which are “slow-moving and difficult to implement” due to the global pandemic.
De Vera added that some of the programs have also been labeled “for later release” by the 2020 General Appropriations Act (GAA) and will no longer be released for the agency to contribute to responding to COVID-19.
These programs include financial assistance and funding requirements development of standards of excellence for higher education institutions (HEIs); the establishment of basic e-library facilities in state universities and colleges (SUCs); financial assistance for post-graduate students; a portion of the funding for assistance and incentives, scholarships and grants; among others.
According to De Vera, the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education (UAQTE) Law funds for the reimbursement of the tuition and miscellaneous fees, as well as the Tertiary Education Subsidy for the second semester were also contributed by CHED to the relief fund as these will now be included in the 2011 GAA.
“All state and local universities and colleges are now using the new academic calendar and their second semester for the academic year 2020-2021 starts in January next year. With this decision, the UAQTE will be implemented on a fiscal year instead of an academic year basis starting this September,” De Vera added.
The higher education chief bared that the Commission has also realigned funds from the remaining 2020 budget to assist SUCs in producing health products such as alcohol or alcogel and personal protective equipment to be distributed to frontliners and for their needs when schools reopen in August; massive training program for faculty members to prepare for flexible learning; and technical assistance to improve connectivity in universities and colleges.
“CHED’s contribution of P15,317,631,000 is one of the biggest single agency support to the call of President Duterte for the entire nation to raise funds to support mitigating strategies in responding to the present health crisis,” De Vera said.
“CHED is continuously cooperating with the national government’s efforts to ensure the success of the whole-of-government mobilization of assets to overcome this present health crisis,” he added.