'P30-B needed to ease K-12 impact'

By Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 24 2014 04:07 PM | Updated as of Jun 25 2014 12:07 AM

MANILA - The Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) are appealing to Congress to create an estimated P30 billion stabilization fund to help mitigate the effects of the K-12 program.

During the meeting of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education at the House of Representatives Tuesday morning, these agencies presented their action plan to help higher education institutions (HEIs) who stand to lose billions in 2016, as students attend the senior high school program instead of enrolling in college.

It also aims to help more than 30,000 faculty and non-teaching staff all over the country who face massive displacement as a result of the program.

The action plan includes several mitigation measures, including an expanded Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) program, livelihood training and assistance for the teachers.

Most significant is the establishment of the Stabilization Fund that will help augment the income of the HEIs because of the loss of enrollees for two years. This would help make the institutions still viable enough to sustain employment of teachers despite the loss of enrollees.

The labor department said that this fund is an anti-displacement measure so that retrenchment of teachers and staff should be the last recourse for the schools.

However, if schools would still be forced to lay off teachers, the fund can assist teachers financially by giving them P30,000 every month for two years. This assistance from the government is on top of the separation package that displaced staff will receive from their employers.

Displaced non-teaching staff, meanwhile, will receive P15,000 a month for two years.

CHED spokesman Julio Vitriolo said this would help the affected staff during the difficult transition years, where some would be forced to downgrade from teaching in a college or university to senior high school.

Meanwhile, college teachers assailed the plan of the government, saying this is based on nothing but speculation.

The agencies have yet to submit their plan to Congress, where they hope it would be acted upon and passed into a law before 2016.

Prof. Rene Tadle of the Council of Teachers and Staff of Colleges and Universities in the Philippines said these issues should have been addressed by now, if only they had been consulted during the crafting of the bill.

Committee chair Rep. Roman Romulo said he is not content with the presentation of the agencies, saying some details still need to be studied.

However, he believes that it is not too late to the address these impending problems.