Senator Win Gatchalian urged the Commission on Higher Education to fast track the evaluation and accreditation of local universities and colleges to unlock their potential in producing highly-educated graduates with skill sets to match the primary needs of local economies.
At the same time, Gatchalian said the CHED should likewise help LUCs upgrade their curricula to complement the educational demands for workers in local economies.
“Locally-funded schools are key growth partners for home-grown businesses. Since these industries normally prefer workers from the hometown or from nearby communities for economic and practical reasons, LUCs can collaborate with domestic companies, find out their manpower requirements and subsequently, supply highly-educated graduates to meet their staffing demands,” the legislator said.
The lawmaker cited reforms in his hometown as an example of successful synergy between local colleges and the business community. During the senator’s tenure as mayor, the city government was able to bolster the city’s business competitiveness after he reformed the course offerings at the city government-run Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Valenzuela to respond to the labor force demands of high-tech industries doing business in the city.
Gatchalian said an updated college programme would attract more enrolees to study in LUCs, especially now that college education would be subsidized by the government beginning the 2018 academic year under Republic Act 10931, or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (Free Higher Education law).
“We want more students to go to local colleges and universities to boost domestic economies. But we have a shortage of LUCs in the country,” he lamented, citing available data that show that only 16 of 111 locally-funded schools nationwide are CHED certified.
Gatchalian said the CHED should cut bureaucratic constraints and accelerate its evaluation and accreditation process so more LUCs can provide college education to poor students in local communities.
“The CHED should be the partner-for-progress of LUCs. It should work faster in accrediting more LUCs so more poor students will be encouraged to go to school, especially now that college education is free,” he said, who is one of the original authors of the Free Higher Education (FHE) law, which will give full tuition subsidy to students in State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), local universities and colleges, and state-run technical-vocational schools beginning next school year.
Gatchalian noted reports that about 60 more LUCs have sought CHED certification since the law was signed by President Duterte in August this year.
“We want more deserving youngsters to avail of free college education. If more LUCs are accredited, more poor students will benefit from the law,” he said, explaining that LUC enrolees generally hail from the most underprivileged sectors of society.
Gatchalian stressed: “Quality education should be made available to all, especially to those who cannot afford it. It should be the responsibility of the CHED and the LUCs to ensure that poor students are provided with these opportunities.”