“To deny students of the right to education is synonymous to denying them the right to a better future.”
SIDEBAR STORY | Is education at PUP still for the poor?
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Dreaming of sending your children to college? Well, that dream is getting to be just that, a dream, for most parents as 400 public and private higher education institutions (HEIs) all over the country have expressed their intention to raise tuition and other fees in the next academic year. This is based on data gathered by the independent anti-fee hike task force Tuition Monitor.
According to Tuition Monitor, the HEIs with pending tuition hike proposals include: University of Negros Oriental – 7.9 percent or a P48 tuition increase (from the current P605 or $13.52 per unit to P653 $14.59), DMMA College of Southern Philippines – 5 percent amounting to a P20.6 or $.46 tuition increase (from the current P412 or $9.21 per unit to P432.6 or $9.67), CARAGA State University – 25 percent amounting to a P50 or $1.12 tuition increase (from the current P200 4.47 per unit to P250 $3.35), Central Mindanao University – 40 percent or a P60 ($1.34) tuition increase (from current P150 or $3.35 to P210 or $4.69), Ateneo de Naga University – 5 percent or a P42.27 ($0.94) tuition increase (from the current P845.4 per unit or $18.89 to P887.67 or $19.84), University of St. Louis Tuguegarao – 15 percent tuition increase, De La Salle University – 5 percent tuition increase; College of St. Benilde – 3.5 percent tuition increase, University of the East – 3.5 percent tuition increase, Far Eastern University – 5.6 percent tuition increase, University of Sto. Tomas – 7 to 8 percent tuition increase, National University – 10 percent tuition increase, University of San Carlos – 3 to 10 percent increase.
According to Tuition Monitor, hundreds of other public and private HEIs are also set to increase tuition and other fees although there is no exact data available as consultations are still ongoing. Tuition Monitor consolidates data regarding hikes in tuition and other fees from its member student councils and organizations throughout the country.
Last year, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) approved tuition increases in 354 HEIs in the country. Tuition Monitor also gathered reports that 1,000 out of 9,995 basic education schools are also set to increase tuition in the next academic year.
The National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP), together with the students from different private and state universities and colleges, trooped to the office of the CHED on Wednesday, Feb. 12 to reiterate their call to put a stop to tuition fee increases. “We have every reason to oppose the tuition increase, since we have, time and again, reported to CHED that upon careful monitoring, such increases do not translate to quality education, school and student development, and faculty upgrading,” Lovely Carbon, NUSP national secretary general, said.
“At the heart of the issue is the deregulated regime of education in the country, which spurred the uncontrolled and overpriced nature of both basic and higher education,” Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon said.
He lamented that while public utilities in the country such as water and electricity have some form of minimal government regulation, tuition and fees of schools are not subject to any form of regulation. He said that CHED’s rules on tuition hike consultations are not necessarily a form of regulation especially since student councils report bogus consultations year in and year out.
Citing Section 4(1), Article XIV of the 1987 Constitution, which mandates the State to “exercise reasonable supervision and regulation of all educational institutions,” Ridon pointed out that CHED should have control over the price of matriculation.
Ridon said that in theory, the CHED has the power to determine the rate of tuition, just as the LTFRB can determine fare matrixes. “Yet for the past decades, the determination of tuition rates has rested solely in the hands of schools administrations, thereby relegating CHED’s existence to being a mere stamp pad for approval of such hikes,” Ridon said.
Sheryl Alapad, NUSP executive vice president, also said the CHED has done nothing on the cases and complaints that they filed regarding “illegal” tuition increases, exorbitant and redundant school fees. “Sadly, CHED has done nothing but maintain its silence or be downright dismissive of such complaints. A perfect example of such irresponsibility is the CHED’s inaction on cases of illegal tuition increases at the University of Santo Tomas and the De La Salle Araneta University that we filed last year. Up to now, CHED has not released the result of any investigation,” said Sheryl Alapad, NUSP executive vice president.
“There are 26 state universities and colleges (SUCs) for the academic year 2014-2015 that will suffer due to a new round of budget cuts. Private universities and colleges, at the very least in their hundreds, will be increasing their respective matriculation fees. Where will the students go?” Sarah Elago, NUSP national president and co-convener of the Rise for Education Alliance, said.
Expensive education results in more out-of-school youth
Elago said incessant tuition and school fees increases, coupled with hikes in prices of basic goods and services make it difficult for students to go to school and finish their studies.
Data from the National Statistics Office (NSO) identified the high cost of education as one of the three leading reasons of dropouts.
“Among out-of-school youths (OSYs) who were six to 11 years old, lack of personal interest, illness/disability and high cost of education were the three leading reasons for not attending school, for both males and females. Lack of personal interest was also the most cited reason for OSYs who were 12 to 15 years of age, followed by high cost of education. For OSYs aged 18 to 24, high cost of education was the main reason among males, and marriage, among females,” the report read. The report, based on the 2011 Annual Poverty Indicators Survey, revealed that at least 14 percent of the estimated 40 million Filipinos six to 24 years old were considered OSY. “OSY refers to family members 6 to 17 years old who are not attending formal school and family members 18 to 24 years old who are currently out of school, not gainfully employed and have not finished college or post-secondary course.”
“To deny students of the right to education is synonymous to denying them the right to a better future. We hold CHED and Aquino administration responsible for their irresponsibility to provide the students with quality and accessible education,” said Elago.