LOOK: RTU students speak up against ‘anti-poor, detrimental’ Free Tuition IRR

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Students from Rizal Technological University (RTU) expressed their disgust online over the implementing policies for the CHED-DBM Free Tuition policy for 2017-2018.

The Guardian, RTU’s official school publication, released a Facebook post on April 25 showing the implementing guidelines for the FTP. The post currently has over 1,000 shares and over 900 comments.

April 25 — Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released the initial…

Posted by The Guardian Publication on Tuesday, 25 April 2017

In line with CHED’s directive for state universities and colleges (SUCs) to craft their specific rules, RTU released their specific guidelines regarding ‘academically-able’ students who can avail of the free tuition policy:

RTU’s guidelines irked many students, and they lashed out their disgust against this policy on social media.

“Wala na bang chance mag-aral yung umaasa sa free tuition. […] Paano na kaming mga nagkakaroon ng mabababang grades ng dahil sa working students din kami,” said a comment. Similar comments echoed sentiments from these working students:

Another lamented on the additional expenses to get the required papers. “Pambili nga ng bigas e pahirapan na,” he said.

According to another comment, if some don’t deserve the free tuition, it’s only a scholarship:

‘Free tuition’ hoax

“This shows how flawed and inutile the implementing rules for the so-called ‘free tuition’ are,” said Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago.

One of the salient features of the CHED-DBM policy is the prioritization of students who will get free tuition, where beneficiaries of Student Financial Assistance Programs (StuFAPs) are given top priority, followed by graduating students, beneficiaries of the 4Ps or Listahanan 2.0 programs, and lastly, everyone else ranked according to per capita income.

“CHED expects that only 85% of students in SUCs can avail of the P8B fund. Adding requirements such as academic standing will make the number drop further,” Elago added.

“As seen in the case of RTU students, working students get tagged as ‘delinquent’ precisely because they have to sacrifice some grades for work to be able to pay their tuition, yet ironically, they might not be covered by free tuition,”Elago explained.

“These stringent requirements put the policy into question. The selective targeting of free tuition beneficiaries is no different from the blueprint for the flawed Socialized Tuition System in UP, which has been the scapegoat for the massive tuition increase in UP to the current P1,500 per unit from P40 in 1989,” Elago said.

No to tuition collection and TOSF increases

The youth solon calls on SUCs to stop tuition collection starting AY 2017-2018, following the special provisions governing the P8 billion HESF.

“Furthermore, CHED-DBM shouldn’t allow SUCs to increase their respective tuition in an attempt to extract more from the HESF or decrease the number of students who could avail of free tuition. We also denounce plans of SUCs to increase or impose new exorbitant, redundant ,and dubious other school fees,” Elago added.

“The youth must recognize that the P8 billion allocation to SUCs was because of their intense clamor for the right to education. And thus, we will keep on asserting for that right,” Elago said.

“Expect students from more schools to register their anger and rage over the sham ‘free tuition’ policy,” Elago concluded.

On May 10, youth and students will march to the streets to fight against growing commercialization of education marked by incessant increases in tuition and other school fees, and fight for free education. ###