Senator Chiz Escudero has lauded the decision of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to lift its 11-year-old moratorium against prohibiting colleges and universities from offering undergraduate nursing programs.
Escudero, the incoming chair of the Senate Committee on Higher, Technical and Vocational Education, said the move would ensure that the country has sufficient medical frontliners in case of another in the future.
“I welcome the decision of the CHED led by Chairman Prospero de Vera III to finally allow all higher education institutions (HEIs) to offer nursing courses. It is really about time, especially with the lessons learned from our handling of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Escudero said.
“We are still in a pandemic and we will be needing more medical workers. That is why we have to start rebuilding our workforce now so we don’t have to go through the same harrowing experience should another health crisis comes,” he added.
On Thursday, the HEIs were allowed to submit their applications to CHED following de Vera’s announcement on July 13 that the institution has decided en banc to lift the ban after a “very thorough review based on an exhaustive discussion.”
It will be recalled that in 2011, during the administration of President Benigno C. Aquino III, the CHED imposed the moratorium due to, among others, the oversupply of nursing graduates with over 200,000 unemployed nurses.
“This moratorium which was imposed in 2011 has been reviewed at the height of the pandemic when there were calls to lift the moratorium on nursing because of the perceived lack of nurses especially at the height of COVID,” said De Vera on Wednesday.
Aside from the perceived lack of healthcare workers, the Commission lifted the ban due to unequal distribution of HEIs offering nursing programs across the country’s regions, like the Caraga Administrative Region where only three private HEIs offer nursing out of the 333 total HEIs across the country.
Escudero said he intends to look at the current state of the country’s higher education when he assumes the chairmanship of the Committee on Higher, Technical and Vocational Education when the 19th Congress formally opens on July 25.
“We are focussing on bills that will strengthen the country’s education. But we have to ensure that any reform we will have to initiate will be doable and sustainable in the long run,” he stressed.
In the 17th Congress, the senator sponsored Republic Act 10931, or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, that allowed free tuition and other school fees in state universities and colleges, local universities and colleges accredited and recognized by the CHED, and state-run technical-vocational institutions.