PNoy slashes budget for scholarships

THE Aquino administration has slashed the budget for student financial assistance for next year.

From the P1.15-billion allocation for this year, the government will be spending only P501 million for college scholarships next year—a decrease of more than 43 percent or P650.6 million.

The reduction comprises the biggest decrease in the 2011 budget of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), which is in charge of the government’s student financial assistance program.

The net decrease in the CHED’s budget for 2011 amounts to a total of P843 million.

“The decrease in scholarship funds is yet another blow to higher education. At the receiving end of such budget cuts are the students and their parents,” Kabataan Rep. Raymond Palatino  said yesterday.

Meanwhile, another budget item that was slashed in the CHED budget is the Higher Education Development Fund, which the government’s budget planners decreased by P103.17 million.

In a memo to President Aquino obtained by Kabataan party-list, Budget Secretary Butch Abad proposed that state universities and colleges (SUCs) avail of this fund instead of asking for higher subsidy.

“How can the DBM propose that SUCs can avail of the HEDF when, in the first place, it slashed the said budgetary item? Clearly, our budget managers have run out of sensible and factual excuses to justify its abandonment of education,” Palatino said.

During the CHED budget hearing, CHED Chair Patricia Licuanan herself said that the data the DBM is using is “poor” and “erroneous.”

Palatino also reiterated his call to re-channel unnecessary budget allocations to the education sector.

He particularly referred to the budget that goes to debt servicing amounting to P 357 billion and the “questionable” increase of the Department of National Defense budget to P 77 billion.

“The administration should stop stating that education is its priority when they don’t even have the will to appropriate the UN (United Nations) standard of 6 percent of the country’s GDP (gross domestic product) to education. They’re choosing the wrong priorities,” Palatino said. D’Jay Lazaro


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