CHEd head wants public colleges run like businesses

By Jerry E. Esplanada
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 10:02:00 08/04/2008

MANILA, Philippines—All 111 state universities and colleges, or SUCs, nationwide should be run like corporations, according to the new head of the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd).

By “promoting corporatization, the SUCs can be freed from the shackles of government bureaucratic provisions,” said CHEd officer in charge Nona Ricafort.

Citing Republic Act No. 8292, the Higher Education Modernization Act of 1997, Ricafort in a statement said SUCs were “empowered to engage in business ventures, raise endowments and other income-generating activities.”

But militant teachers and students see it otherwise.

Alliance of Concerned Teachers chair Antonio Tinio said, “Her support for the continued corporatization of SUCs can only mean higher costs that will push tertiary education beyond the reach of even more students.”

Alvin Peters, president of the National Union of Students of the Philippines, and Ken Ramos, chair of the Anakbayan youth group, echoed Tinio.

“By announcing corporatization as a cornerstone of her leadership, it is evident Filipino students and their parents shouldn’t expect much in the way of meaningful and much-needed reforms in tertiary education,” Peters said.

Contrary to Ricafort’s claim, Peters said corporatization “will further drive the profit-oriented nature of education in the country.”

Ramos said corporatization was “tantamount to the state’s abandonment of its role of ensuring an education for all. It promotes the notion that government’s role in the delivery of basic social services is limited to subsidizing a select few.”

But in a phone interview, Ricafort explained corporatization “does not mean we’ll push for the privatization of SUC-owned properties.”

“With the country’s food security problem in mind, we’re seriously considering converting idle SUC lands into agricultural estates. We’ll put them to good use,” Ricafort told the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of

Conducting an inventory of idle SUC lands was one of the commission’s priorities, she said.

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