“Patricia Licuanan’s statement further exposed the true intention of the administration of President Aquino to abdicate its obligation to ensure that children and the youth will have an opportunity to study and finish higher education.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Groups lashed out at Commission on Higher Education chairperson Patricia Licuanan for her statement that not all students should go to college.
In a report, Licuanan said,“We don’t think that every student really should go to college.”
She added that there are good technical and vocational programs and in the middle-level skills areas. She said students will get jobs when they finish such programs.
Licuanan further said in the report, “That option of going into technical-vocational and middle-level jobs is attractive, but in our culture, we have that notion that everyone should get a college diploma. I don’t think that’s necessary.”
Progressive youth group National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP) in a statement asked, “Who is she to bar the Filipino students’ and youth’s right to college education? Who is she to decide that not all students have the right to go to college? Shouldn’t the CHED chair be ensuring that all Filipinos attain a college degree and a liberating education?”
The group stressed that CHED’s mandate is to ensure that the constitutional right of every Filipino to education at all levels should be met. But as it is, they said, CHED and Licuanan are “the stumbling blocks to achieving quality, free tertiary education.”
Kharlo Manano, Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concern secretary-general, said Licuanan’s statement is consistent with how government had cut the budget for state universities, leaving the youth to fend for themselves, in the face of unabated tuition and other fees increases in private universities and colleges. The K to 12 program even prolonged secondary education, which add to factors that hold back poor youths from pursuing college.
“Licuanan’s statement further exposed the true intention of the administration of President Aquino’s – to abdicate its obligation to ensure that children and the youth will have an opportunity to study and finish higher education,” he said.
Manano said the education has a significant role in the development of the society. College education, he said, produces professionals that can help in the development of the country. “But the government does not give importance to education. Instead, they make it a business.”
Manano also said the CHED and Aquino intentionally want the youth to finish technical and vocational courses because the economic policy of the country solely depends on labor export. “The youth is the hope of the nation, but the government pushes them to go abroad,” said Manano.
With the ongoing deliberations for the 2016 government budget, Manano urged legislators to give more allocation to education to ensure the right, especially of the poor youth, to quality education.
The NUSP statement said they firmly believe that education is a basic fundamental right. “It is thus an affront to humanity that CHED and Licuanan treat college education as a privilege for a few, while millions of Filipino youth are deprived of free and quality education.”
The group said Licuanan chose to make the CHED an “inutile and senseless commission that intensifies the commercialization and privatization of education in the Philippines.”
They challenged Licuanan to a public debate on education issues, such as the skyrocketing tuition and other school fees, the Socialized Tuition System (STS), the profiteering of school owners, and CHED’s involvement in corruption via the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) insertions in the commission’s programs.