The use of the Commission on Higher Education’s (CHEd) Higher Education Development Fund must be balanced between private and public higher educational institutions (HEIs). This is the call of EDCOM 2 (Second Congressional Commission on Education) Commissioner Senator Joel Villanueva to CHEd during the agency’s budget hearing on Monday.
“96% ng [HEDF] ay nasa public, and only 4% ay nasa private [HEIs], considering that 86% of HEIs in the country are private”, Villanueva said.
According to EDCOM 2 data, from 2018 to 2023, the share of the HEDF allocated to public HEIs increased from 77% to 96%, while the share allocated to private HEIs decreased from 23% to 4%, in 2023.
The Higher Education Development Fund (HEDF) was established through RA 7722, which also created CHEd, in 1994. According to Section 10 of the law, it is established “exclusively for the strengthening of higher education in the entire country”.
The creation of the HEDF was also consistent with recommendations of the first Education Commission. In the deliberations then, this was defined as “faculty development, scholarships for poor but deserving students, and library and laboratory improvement”. It was also clarified that the HEDF was meant for both public and private HEI, considering that at that point, 85% of HEIs were private.
CHEd Chair Prospero “Popoy” de Vera explained that there was a “practical problem” hindering the proportionate allocation of the HEDF. “‘Mayroon po kasing practical problem sa private schools – 1,700 po kasi ang private schools. Kung sino ‘yung uunahin, at kung bakit. ‘Pag nagkonsulta po kami sa COCOPEA (Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations) at ang kaniyang member organizations, mahirap pong magkasundo, kung saan mapupunta ang pondo – may practical problem ‘ho”, he said. De Vera further described CHEd’s support to private HEIs including training and capacity-building of their leaders.
“Inuna po natin ‘yung SUCs because ‘yung assistance na binibigay natin sa SUCs ay for program compliance…”, de Vera said.
“[On] behalf of the Commission, let me commit that we will start supporting private schools starting 2024. That is a commitment that I make”, he continued.