Youth solon calls on Congress to act on school fee increases, pass tuition regulation law
KABATAAN PARTYLIST Representative Raymond “Mong” Palatino today sounded the alarm on the need for legislative intervention on the yearly school fee hikes, calling on the House leadership to prioritize the passage of tuition regulation bills seeking to control tuition and other fee increases.
The youth solon made the appeal during today’s Congressional hearing on tuition and miscellaneous fees, saying that the “blatant refusal of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to exercise its mandate of regulating school fees warrants an immediate congressional action in the form of a new law that upholds the constitutional right of access to quality and affordable education.”
During the joint hearing by the Committees on Higher and Technical Education and Basic Education and Culture, CHED officials revealed that as of May 7, 2012, 266 private colleges and universities were given the go signal to raise their tuition rates for the next school year.
CHED added that these increases only refer to tuition and do not include miscellaneous fees, which are not presently covered by CHED’s regulatory guidelines. Palatino raised during the hearing that many schools have been foregoing tuition increases in favor of hikes in miscellaneous fees, which do not need to undergo consultation and approval from CHED, resulting in the imposition of arbitrary, redundant and ridiculous fees.
“It is evident from CHED’s inferior track record in regulating school fees that parents and students cannot turn to the agency for help amid the soaring and already unreachable cost of education. In fact, the agency itself has been contributing to the misery of families by approving year after year all applications from private schools to increase their charges,” Palatino remarked.
“This utterly deregulated character of tuition and other fees actually finds basis in our existing laws and policies. It is only fitting that we address the problem of yearly tuition increases through the enactment of a tuition regulation law as it has been government policy to allow private educational institutions to devour humongous profits at expense of the youth’s right to education,” Palatino added.
For 2011, the CHED says that only two out of ten high school students will be able to go to college.
Kabataan Partylist has been pushing for the passage of 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.
“The unabated tuition and other fee increases have effectively transformed our schools as ripe venues for aggressive profit-making. Many rich and powerful businesspeople have already ventured into owning schools, allowing them to rake in millions yearly. Despite their high earnings, yearly tuition and other fee increases are still imposed as schools reason out that more money is needed for operation expenses,” Palatino said.
The National Union of Students of the Philippines cited that in the past six years, the top five highest earning private schools raked in P3.45 billion in net income.
Palatino clarified however that “while it is true that a number of schools need the increase to prevent themselves from closing down, this remains the exception rather than the rule. The fact remains that the process of increasing tuition and other fees takes place within the context of rampant deregulation, big school earnings and the lack of democratized participation from students, parents and members of the academic community.”
“We would have preferred that the issue of high tuition rates be addressed first via an immediate action on the part of CHED but despite the resounding call of parents and students to immediately revise the present tuition guidelines, the agency decided to make CMO 3 effective for school year 2013-2014,” Palatino said.
With pressure from Kabataan party-list last year during a public hearing in Congress that tackled the youth group’s resolution on exorbitant school fees, CHED was pushed to draft a new tuition and other fee guidelines (CMO 3). Among the salient features of the guidelines are the inclusion of miscellaneous fees in the consultation and sanction for non-compliance which includes cancellation of school application for fees increase and introduction of new fees. Administrative and criminal charges can also be filed against violating schools and/or its responsible officers
Meanwhile, Palatino is also calling on CHED and the Department of Education to publish in major and regional dailies and on their respective websites the list of schools that will be increasing tuition and miscellaneous fees and the corresponding increases that will be implemented for the next school year.#