The Medium-Term Higher Education Development Plan and the Local Colleges and Universities

Article excerpt

Byline: Carolina P. Danao, Ph.D. President, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Pasig

THE establishment of LCUs among leading LGUs in Metro Manila, a couple of years after the implementation of the Local Government Code of 1991, is an exciting yet a very challenging phenomenon in the history of the Philippine educational system. It is exciting because of the benefits accruing to economically-marginalized local constituents who did not expect to earn a college degree in their lifetime, but soon found themselves at the workplace after graduating from an LCU. It is challenging because of the seemingly unstoppable "proliferation of community colleges" despite the recent feedback from the British Council, and the negative perception of LCUs by some CHED officials and private HEI administrators of these "mushrooming colleges/universities" as "diploma shanties" unworthy of the title "university."

What have LCUs got to do with the Medium-Term Higher Education Development Plan of the Philippines? Answer: The recipients of LCU education are citizens of the country who also have rights to government services provided for in the Higher Education Act of 1994. These are the "Children Left Behind" because they have no money to pay the cost of higher education.

What are LCUs? LCUs are Local Colleges and Universities located in their respective LGUs (Local Government Units). In terms of funding source, LCUs are to local governments as SCUs are to national government. By virtue of a city or a municipal ordinance that legally establishes a local college or university and appropriates funds thereof, an LCU is created. An LGU maybe a barangay, a municipality, city, or a province that puts up a post-secondary institution based on Section 468, 447, and 458 of R.A. 7160, which provide that "subject to availability of funds and to existing laws, rules and regulation the LGU shall establish and provide for the operation of vocational and technological schools and similar post-secondary institutions and, with approval of the DECS, fix and collect reasonable fees and other school charges at said institutions, subject to existing laws on tuition fees."

The creation of a local college or university is the effect of a law (CHED) Exec. Dir. Roger Perez, 2003). The law referred to here is Republic Act 7160, also known as the Local Government Code of 1991. Its principal objective is countryside development; thus, it provides greater autonomy to city, municipal, and provincial governments so that they can directly and promptly serve the expressed needs of their constituents. With R.A. 7160, a big portion of the functions of the national government such as public works, social welfare, health services, and education was transferred to the local government.

With an increased share of taxes from 11 to 40 % given by the national government units plus their own income as highly urbanized cities or municipalities, a good number of LGUs decided to put up their own LCUs. LGUs are aware that while it is easy even for poor families to send their children to elementary and high school because costs are relatively lower, sending them to college poses a big problem. How can poor families or even those average-income families sustain a college student with 2-3 others also in school? It is in this light that local government units are inspired to establish and maintain institutions of higher learning (HEIs) in their own localities (Tagaytay Mayor Francis Tolentino, President of League of Cities of the Philippines 2004).

Under the leadership of decisive LGU leaders, people in the community are encouraged to make an input into the educational system that serves their community. Together, people identify and prioritize needs and find solutions to common problems utilizing the material, human, and institutional resources of the community. In essence, by establishing LCUs, local government units empower the poor people in their community. …