In the meantime, in the few cases where a tuition consultation is held, it usually involves only a mere passing down of the school administration’s decision. Palatino said the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) has existing guidelines with regard to tuition and other fee increases, but schools are still able to dodge the jurisdiction of these education agencies.
“It is a sad fact that the Ched has fallen short in terms of strictly ensuring that students, parents and members of the academic community are able to exercise their democratic rights to take part in the process of deciding over the implementation of tuition and other fees,” he said.
Democratic Process of Consultation
Kabataan Partylist’s bill aims to democratize the process of determining tuition fees which, needless to say also includes the process of turning down any and all proposals deemed unacceptable or unwarranted. In the measure, affected parties are empowered to amend or include proposals not limited to review, refund and scrapping of existing fees.
“Schools should make all pertinent documents available to all parties involved at least 30 days before the consultation. These include financial reports: comprehensive reports of the incremental proceeds of the preceding year’s increase; administrative reports and the school’s position paper. Copies of all of these should be given to the students, parents, faculty, and non-teaching personnel,” said Palatino.
Kabataan Partylist Rep. Palatino says the greed of education profiteers has made education too costly for majority of people to afford. This photo was taken during the protest action of youth groups in Bacold City, marking the 38th year since the First Quarter Storm. (Photo by Owen S. Bayog / Negros Daily Bulletin / bulatlat.com)
Not allowing any cracks and holes that school administrations can take advantage of, the bill also states that schools must allow all gatherings and activities related to the consultation. The consultations, in the meantime, will be open to all concerned students, parents, faculty and non-teaching personnel, and they are tasked to agree on the rate of tuition increase based on a consensus.
In the event that no consensus is made, the previous rate of tuition and other fee will apply.
Three-year Moratorium on Tuition Hikes
Besides calling for democratic consultations on tuition fees, Kabataan Partylist has also filed a proposal calling for a three-year moratorium in increases in the same.
Palatino recently filed House Bill No. 3708 or the Three-Year Tuition Moratorium Act wherein the Department of Education (DepEd), Ched and the Technical Education and Skills Authority (TESDA) are ordered to impose a three-year moratorium on increases on any school fees in all public and private educational institutions.
“There is a need to revamp the entire educational system because of how twisted its orientation has become. As we go about fighting for more reforms, we also need to give the people several pockets of economic relief. They continue to suffer intense economic hardship, and education has become increasingly inaccessible for the majority. There’s a need to impose a moratorium to the greed of education profiteers which has effectively made education too costly for majority of people to afford,” he said.
In the meantime, the measure also seeks to protect faculty and non-academic personnel from possible excuses school administrations will offer as arguments against the proposed moratorium. In the bill, public and private educational institutions are not allowed to refuse increases in teachers’ salaries, among other benefits, within the period of the moratorium solely based on the legislated tuition moratorium as justification.
“All public and private educational institutions will be made to submit to the proper government agency and to the recognized teachers association or union an audit of all its tuition increases within the preceding ten years in order to verify whether or not 70 percent of the increases went to the salaries of the teachers as mandated by law,” said Palatino. This, he explained, was also in line with aims to democratize the education system by making its financial workings more transparent.