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House solon hits CHED’s ban on nursing programs

June 13, 2022 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 382 views

A SENIOR leader of the House of Representatives has taken the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to task for its “refusal” to act on his request for the agency to allow the newly established Kolehiyo ng Lungsod ng Dasmariñas to open a nursing program that aims to expand the country’s workforce in the face of the still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and other future health emergencies.

Cavite Representative Elpidio Barzaga Jr. scored CHED Chairman Prospero “Popoy” De Vera III for stonewalling his year-old request for the agency to lift its almost 12-year ban on new nursing programs in the country.

“It’s high time that CHED lifted the 11-year-old ban on nursing programs. We’re still in a pandemic, and we’ve seen how badly we need more nurses and health workers as we continue to battle COVID-19. The CHED’s stubbornness is hurting the country; this is unthinkable,” said the lawmaker.

As De Vera’s appointment is set to end on July 21, Barzaga urged President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to appoint someone who has “a firm grasp of the real situation on the ground.”

He said the CHED is doing the country a great “disservice” by continuing to ban new nursing programs, especially since the students of Kolehiyo ng Lungsod ng Dasmariñas do not pay any fee.

The public college was established and is maintained with the funds of the city government, primarily intended to provide educational opportunities to poor but intelligent students in the city.

“We cannot surrender the future of the country’s nursing workforce to the whims and caprices of some individuals. The country needs a CHED chairman who takes time to study and understand the real situation on the ground,” Barzaga said.

President Duterte appointed De Vera to head the CHED in October 2018. Before that, De Vera had served as commissioner since Sept. 13, 2016, and was designated Officer-in-Charge (OIC) on January 24, 2018, when former Chairperson Patricia Licuanan resigned.

The commission, in Memorandum Order 32 dated September 30, 2010, stopped opening all undergraduate and graduate programs in business administration, nursing, teacher education, hotel and restaurant management, and information technology education beginning in the school year 2011-2012.

The moratorium was issued on the ground that the proliferation of the programs would cause “the deterioration of the quality of graduates of these five higher education programs.”

It cited the “gradual decline in the performance of teacher and nursing education graduates, indicating the worsening state of the programs.”

In his January 13, 2021 letter to De Vera, Barzaga warned that “the present acute and dramatic escalation of shortage of nurses may worsen in the future both at a national and global level.”

“In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) report State of the World’s Nursing 2020 projects that without action, there will be a shortfall of 4.6 million nurses worldwide by 2030. In the country, the projected shortfall of nurses is expected to be 249,843 by 2030. In the City of Dasmariñas alone, based on a survey made in March 2022, among seven public and private health facilities, there is a shortage of 266 nurses,” the lawmaker noted.

Adding to this problem, Barzaga pointed out, “is the ever-persistent poverty that keeps Filipino families from sending their children to college.”

He cited the latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), which showed that educational attainment “had the highest incidence of deprivation among families of 59.3% in 2016 and 49.4% in 2017 with two out of five senior high school graduates unable to pursue tertiary education.”

“As per the hereto attached data provided by the Chief of Schools Governance and Operations Divisions, the public schools in the City of Dasmarinas produced a total of 3,108 graduates for A.Y. 2020-2021. Of this, only 2,339 students went to college, as reflected in the number of requests for Form 137. As public leaders, we do not want hundreds and thousands of our graduates to just let go of their noble dreams and prematurely enter the workforce because of financial incapacity. Nursing students need to raise P80,000 to P100,000 per semester for the payment of school fees every semester in private educational institutions. Hence, the establishment of the Kolehiyo ng Lungsod Dasmariñas,” said the lawmaker, whose wife Jenny is the city’s mayor.

Barzaga added: “In view thereof, long-term planning dictates the creation of additional institutions that will cater to aspiring nurses regardless of their families’ socioeconomic status. We, therefore, request that BS (Bachelor of Science) in Nursing be included in the first five programs that will be offered at the Kolehiyo ng Lungsod ng Dasmarinas. As the city’s first local government-funded tertiary institution, tuition and miscellaneous fees of students will be shouldered by the city government. Indeed, [establishing] Kolehiyo ng Lungsod ng Dasmarinas is a great leap in promoting quality and accessible education for all.”

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