House members said the closure will displace some 5,000 students in Misamis Oriental and deprive the youth, who come from poor families, in acquiring a college education, thus denying them an opportunity to build a better future.
The lawmakers approved a motion calling on the CHED to abandon its abolition plan during the inquiry conducted by the House committee on higher education, chaired by Rep. Ann Hofer (2nd District, Zamboanga Sibugay), on the issue.
The inquiry is being done based on House Resolution No. 957 filed by Rep. Juliette Uy (2nd District, Misamis Oriental). The resolution seeks to determine the dire consequences of the CHED order to close the various Bukidnon State University-External Studies Centers (BSU-ESCs) to students and communities in Misamis Oriental.
Hofer, in her opening statement, said the CHED was established to ensure that quality higher education is accessible to all particularly those who could not afford it.
“Even before CHED was created (in 1994), the learning institutions have already been there,” Hofer said.
She stressed that the students in the said campuses come from poor families, who could not afford to study in the capital city, more so, in Metro Manila.
Hofer suggested that instead of closing them, CHED should cooperate with the local government units and the House members concerned in addressing what is currently lacking in the external studies centers (ESCs).
“House members, being representatives of the people, are expressing the sense of their constituents, and the sense is not to close the ESCs,” Hofer said.
Uy said that although she supports the laudable efforts of the CHED to improve quality education, CHED must strike a balance between the need to achieve higher education with the accessibility of education which are both imposed by the realities of communities.
“The sad reality is that many of our citizens in Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon cannot afford to go to school outside their municipalities. We have no community college as the local government units (LGUs) cannot afford them as of now,” she said.
“CHED has to understand the reality that for our poor citizens in Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon, it is a harsh choice between a temporary although less than ideal situation of poor facilities and substandard education or no education at all,” Uy said.
Uy said the closure of BSU-ESCs in Misamis Oriental will ultimately displace close to 5,000 students in the province and permanently deprive them and future generations of youth of accessible and affordable tertiary education.
Rep. Ma. Lourdes Acosta-Alba (1st District, Bukidnon) said the CHED’s closure order would be an injustice to the students to be adversely affected by the said order.
“Most of the students enrolled in the ESCs in Bukidnon will not have the opportunity to study in the BSU main campus due to distance and cost of travel,” she said.
“The ESCs have produced countless professionals who in turn have helped uplift the lives of their respective families,” Acosta-Alba said.
Rep. Maximo Rodriguez Jr. (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City) said the CHED must address the concerns of the ESCs and help them uplift the standard of education, instead of closing them.
“Closing these learning centers will deprive young people of their right to education,” Rodriguez said.
Rep. Evelina Escudero (1st District, Sorsogon) said the CHED must help the extension campuses comply with the necessary requirements, not close them.
Rep. France Castro (Party-list, ACT TEACHERS) moved to stop the CHED from implementing its closure order on the BSU-ESCs, which was approved unanimously by committee members. / ABR
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