June 13, 2011
MANILA — University students and other youths are bewailing soaring tuition and other fees at the college level a year under the administration of Noynoy Aquino, despite a last year promise by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) that State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) will not hike their tuition rates this year.
Clad in black, students from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, University of the Philippines, Philippine Normal University, as well as several high schools and private colleges, trooped to the CHED’s national office to blast its pursuance of a ‘pro-commercialization’ policy.
“A year into Noynoy’s office, the Filipino youth is still ‘paying’ for the education policies we have come to associate with former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo” said Vencer Crisostomo, national chairperson of Anakbayan.
Despite soaring prices of commodities and basic services such as transportation, the CHED allowed 281 universities to hike their tuition this year, including several SUCs such as the Pangasinan State University. Other schools have undertaken ‘creative schemes’ to charge students more, such as the UP’s STFAP.
“We would like to reiterate to the government: commercialization is not wonderful. By allowing schools to treat their tuition rates like the prices of other basic goods, they are effectively cutting off the access of many youths” said Crisostomo.
The head of the CHED, Patricia Licuanan, was recently quoted as saying that ‘commercialization (of education) is wonderful’. The youth leader pointed out however that commercialization, in the form of deregulated tuition and other fees, has resulted in the nationwide tuition average increasing to P501.22 per unit. A 20-unit semester, amounting to P10,024.4, is equivalent to 29 days’ earnings of the average Filipino (P341).
“Under a government that treats education as a commodity, instead of a right, we fear that more education budget cuts and continued deregulation of tuition fees are awaiting the Filipino youth along the ‘Daang Matuwid'” concluded Crisostomo.
Today’s protesters, under the multi-sectoral alliance Ugnayan ng Mamamayan para sa Karapatan sa Edukasyon (UMAKSYON), vowed to escalate their protests up to a nationwide class walkout before Aquino’s State of the Nation Address on July 25. ###