House Committee Approves Bill on Recovery Assistance Package for Higher Education and Tech-Voc Education

June 18, 2020

The House New Normal SubCommittee of the Defeat COVID-19 Ad Hoc Committee approved in principle at the committee level House Bill No. 6706, which seeks to provide a Recovery Assistance Package for Higher Education and Technical-Vocational Education and Training.

Legarda, chair of the said subcommittee, noted that the current pandemic has gravely affected not only human health but it also disrupted socio-economic systems, including learning and education. She stated that this health crisis should be a driving force for the government to implement a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to protect the health and wellbeing of the Filipinos while ensuring that all sectors receive adequate assistance needed as the country adapts to the challenges of the new normal.

“Considering that the education sector is also heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is indeed a need to provide for special assistance for our students, learners, educators and trainors to ensure that they still have access to quality education while securing their right to be protected against exposure to health risks,” Legarda said.

Legarda emphasized that the government needs to step up efforts to effectively transition from traditional learning to what is called “flexible or bundled learning system”.

“The challenge now is how our education institutions as well as the tech-voc training centers will transition from the traditional modes of teaching to be able to implement these alternative approaches so that the learning process of our students and learners will not be hampered,” Legarda said.

“This pandemic has made us realize that we sorely lack the information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure that has now become a fundamental need for all sectors to survive and thrive in the midst of this pandemic,” Legarda added.

The measure seeks to adopt a flexible/bundle learning system that utilizes both digital and non-digital technology, and other open distance learning modalities. Moreover, the recovery assistance package to be provided under the bill will upgrade and rehabilitate IT/internet system and infrastructures in SUCs, LUCs and TESDA; provide training on distance/flexible learning system for HEIs and TVIs; provide financial assistance/subsidy for teaching and non-teaching personnel, trainors and assessors in HEIs and TVIs; offer zero percent (0%) interest loans and subsidies for students and faculty for IT-related needs; and ensure additional budget for TES under RA 10931 to expand coverage for students not covered by Listahanan 2.0 determined by DSWD.

Legarda, however, cautioned that, “what must first be determined is the availability of funds. The bill requires a total of P38.861 billion so that the above purposes being proposed will be realized. The subcommittee will have to secure a certification from the Bureau of Treasury regarding the availability of funds. This will determine the next steps to be taken by the subcommittee.”***