MANILA, May 8, 2013—The Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) has assailed the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) for making a policy decision that runs counter to the academic freedom of higher educational institutions’ (HEIs).
CEAP, an organization of 1,345 Catholic schools, colleges and universities throughout the country, has voiced its opposition to the CHEd Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 46, titled “Policy Standard to enhance Quality Assurance (QA) in the Philippine Higher Education through an Outcomes-based and Typology-based QA,” issued on December 11. 2012.
CEAP said the approval of CMO 46 by the CHEd en banc was “rushed, despite our pleas to the contrary.” The group claimed that CMO goes against the Constitutional guarantee of Philippine HEIs for academic freedom to determine who teaches, whom to teach, what to teach, and how to teach.
“CMO 46 abrogates to itself the power to state: ‘Philippine higher education is mandated to contribute to building a quality nation.’ Where it gets the power to mandate what is properly left to the HEIs, especially the private HEIs, to determine in academic freedom is unknown. This is a violation of the academic freedom to determine what to teach,” CEAP said.
The organization also described CMO 46 as a contradiction to the international quality assurance being put in place in the member-countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
“Where ASEAN insists on quality assurance agencies being independent of government, of the universities being monitored and of the market, CMO offers the government agency CHEd as an external quality assurance agency that would subject higher education to the needs of the market,” CEAP added.
The organization even claimed that CMO 46 “doesn’t help Philippine higher education,” adding that “it messes things up, quite horribly.”
CEAP also urged CHEd should close substandard HEIs for non-compliance of minimum standards instead of approving a QA mechanism that “cannot be equitably implemented” through CMO 46.
“The approval of CMO 46 is issued in a higher educational context where CHEd’s regulation for private schools cannot apply to state universities and colleges, which are created by law, and local colleges and universities, created by local ordinances. Accordingly under CMO 46, there is no equal protection before the law,” the CEAP said in its statement.
“On the basis of CMO 46, CHEd can close private universities for substandard performance. It cannot close state universities nor local universities and colleges. That’s unfair,” CEAP added.
The CEAP urged the CHEd to reconsider its policy decision, saying “it doesn’t help Philippine higher education. The CHEd should abrogate it or at least suspend it until its myriad of infirmities are cured.”
“We call on the President and the legislators to read CMO 46 for themselves, consider the issues we have raised and help return order and rationality to our CHEd in pursuit of quality higher education,” the group added. (KB/CBCPNews)