Kabataan slams Aquino for inaction on higher educ costs, proposes six remedies to counter tuition problem
As classes are set to resume in the next few weeks, Kabataan Partylist Representative Raymond “Mong” Palatino today called on President Noynoy Aquino to “act with due haste on the yearly unabated tuition and other fee increases, a major national concern that cannot not be swept under the rug.”
“Every year, the government responds to the clamor for solutions to the high tuition rates and exorbitant school fees through empty promises and excuses. This year, Aquino’s silence and inaction on the issue of the highly commercialized state of education is more pronounced than ever, giving credence to the word ‘noynoying’ coined by activist groups to refer to the President’s plain refusal to address the people’s gut issues,” the youth legislator said.
Almost 300 private higher educational institutions were given the green light to raise their tuition fees for the next school year, excluding miscellaneous fees which are not covered by government regulatory guidelines. Palatino said “the gravity of the school fees problem cannot be based simply on the number of schools raising their tuition, as it has been a deceiving practice of many private schools to forego tuition increases in exchange for the imposition of exrobitant, unjust and redundant miscellaneous fees that the government has no control over.”
“Aquino cannot just claim that concerned agencies are working on the problem of high education costs. If he has been monitoring the situation on the ground, these government offices are actually contributing to the problem by allowing abusive and greedy private schools to go scot free and continue to drain the pockets of millions of families,” Palatino said. He added that the education agencies’ failure to exercise their mandate to regulate school fees should automatically prompt the President step in and address an alarming problem that is not entirely new to Filipinos.
Meanwhile, the youth solon is proposing six “quick and doable” remedities to address the tuition problem, solutions that a “government with a clear and unbridled political will” can easily undertake:
- Implement a moratorium on tuition and other fee increases.
- Provide supplemental funding for more scholarships to benefit both private and public school students.
- Give supplemental funding for state universities and colleges which will absorb more students from the more costly private schools.
- Certify as urgent Kabataan Partylist’s House Bill 4286 or the “Tuition Regulation Bill” which aims to control tuition and other fee increases and empower students and parents by ensuring a democratic consultation and decision-making process.
- Direct the Commission on Higher Education to implement Memorandum Order No. 3 effective the second semester of the next school year.
- Enlarge the share of the SUCs budget for the 2013 expenditure program currently being drafted by the government’s budget planners. Strengthen public higher education.
“That the Filipino youth are continuously losing grip of their right to education should force Aquino to finally see the light and take decisive steps towards reversing policies and practices of deregulation,” Palatino added. The youth solon cited observations made by the National Union of Students of the Philippines, the broadest alliance of student councils and governments in the country, that should force our leaders to come back to their senses:
- SUCs have had their state subsidies go down from 87.74% to 66.31% causing a spike in tuition rates and miscellaneous fees in SUCs;
- The average tuition of private schools in the NCR has doubled from P 9, 231 per semester to P 20, 591 per semester while the national average has gone up from P 5, 406 to P10, 526;
- Exorbitant, unjust, and redundant fees have abounded. Examples are athletic fees with additional sports fees, installment fees, power charge fees, internet fees, etc;
- In the past six years, the top five highest earning private schools raked in P 3.45 billion in net income;
- Seventy-three percent (73% ) of students are forced to drop out due to the high cost of education, according to a 2008 UNESCO study;
- For 2011, the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) says that only two out of ten (2 out of 10) high school students will be able to go to college.