Kabataan solon: Tuition hikes make wage increase more urgent
Kabataan Partylist Representative Raymond Palatino today called on the government to immediately act on demands to substantially increase workers’ wages following its approval of another round of tuition rates which are expected to result in more drop-outs and out-of-school youths.
“With the government increasing once more the already burdensome cost of education through its easy approval of tuition hike petitions, calls for a substantial pay hike should be given paramount consideration in order for workers to continue sending their children to school and to be able to cope with the grueling demands of every living,” said Palatino.
The Commission on Higher Education recently approved applications for higher tuition rates for at least 222 private colleges and universities nationwide (as of April 26, 2012). Out of 2,181 private higher education institutions in the country, CHEd approved an average of 10 percent or P41.52 increase in tuition for these private schools. The said number could still rise to 256, as CHEd National Capital Region has yet to process tuition hike applications from schools in Metro Manila.
Meanwhile, the Department of Education has already given the go signal to at least 120 private school in Metro Manila to increase their tuition for the incoming school year.
“While the additional P125 that the workers have been demanding remains insufficient to address families’ basic needs, the amount could at very least help them cope with the onslaught of tuition hikes and price increases that have unfortunately become a regular feature in the administration of Noynoy Aquino,” the youth solon said.
According to CHEd, the national average tuition per unit for academic year 2012-2013 will increase by P41.52, to P475.47 per unit from the current P433.95 average per unit.
“The figures clearly indicate that the average cost of tuition is even higher than the current P424 minimum wage. The yearly tuition hikes are forcing minimum wage earners and low income families to make education less of a priority,” he said.
The 2009 Family Income and Expenditure Survey shows that education continues to be one of the top expenses of families, averaging at around 4.2 percent for all income classes. However, in the lower income brackets, expenses for education were only at 1.0 percent for families earning less than 40,000.
The National Wages and Productivity Commission estimates that a family of six needs roughly P957 per day for basic expenses alone. “With the glaring difference between the amount needed to send a family member to school and the wages that workers receive, going to school becomes a privilege enjoyed only by those who can afford it,” he said.
In press reports, CHEd Chairperson Patricia Licuanan defended the new spate of tuition hikes, saying that private colleges are “under pressure to increase tuition because of increasing costs at a difficult time.” The party-list lawmaker, however, said “it is infuriating how the increasing costs of commodities and services are being used to justify the quick approval of these ridiculous tuition hikes while on the other hand, the same justification aren’t enough for the government to act on petitions for substantial wage hikes.”
“It leads me to wonder if these bureaucrats are appointed in the correct offices. The restraint and rigidness exercised by wage boards in granting petitions for wage hikes are a far cry from the liberality and leniency displayed by our education agencies when succumbing to the demands of private educators,” the lawmaker lamented.
He added: “When the government talks of a ‘difficult time’ experienced by Filipinos, is it only referring to the conditions faced by businesses rather than the plight of ordinary citizens? In the real world, the workers and their families are the ones having that real difficult time due to the evils of social inequality and poverty. And the government is making it even more difficult by refusing to regulate the the prices of commodities and services.”
In Congress, Palatino is pushing for the passage into law of his two tuition and other fee bills, namely HB no. 3708 or the “Three-year Tuition Moratorium Act” and HB no. 4286 or the “Tuition and Other Fees Regulation Act.”
“A tuition moratorium, more than providing a pause for thought to regulate tuition increase will provide immediate economic relief to students and parents especially in the context of the unabated price increases and the unjust imposition of fee increases in schools,” Palatino said.
The youth solon is also a co-author of HB no. 375 which seeks to provide for a P125 daily across-the-board increase in the salary rates of employees and workers in the private sector.