‘If Aquino has a heart’ | Youth groups set 4-point demand on education

“Government should act on the worsening education crisis.”


MANILA — Before President Aquino ends his term in June, progressive youth groups are giving him the last chance to help students by heeding their four-point demand on education issues.

Youth and student groups led by the Rise for Education Alliance, the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), and Kabataan Partylist gathered on Feb. 19 in front of the University of Santo Tomas along España Boulevard here to unveil their four-point protest demand.
The groups said they will bring their demands to Malacañang on the day of the nationwide student walkout on Feb. 24.

The youth and student groups will hold a protest action against the increasing cost of tertiary education on Feb. 24. Contributed photo.
The youth and student groups will hold a protest action against the increasing cost of tertiary education on Feb. 24. Contributed photo.

Four-point demands

Students from various schools, colleges, and universities, victims of the ever-worsening state of education in the country present the following demands:

1. Stop tuition and other fee

Sarah Elago, NUSP national president and Kabataan Partylist first nominee, said that for the past six years of the Aquino administration, Elago said Aquino has not done anything to stop tuition and other fee increases. Ordering a blanket tuition moratorium is the least Aquino government could do to help ease the burden of students and their parents, she said.

She noted that about 400 colleges and universities are again set to increase tuition and other fees this coming school year.

“In fact, college unaffordability reached new heights under this presidency. When he stepped into Malacañang in June 2010, students shelled out an average P30,000 ($629) to P50,000 ($1,049) on tuition yearly. This amount has already doubled to P60,000 ($1,258) to P100,000 ($2,098) in 2015,” Elago said.

She also noted that the annual profits of some of the most prominent universities have almost doubled under Aquino. “In fact we have schools like the Far Eastern University and the University of the East that are included in the Top 1,000 corporations in 2015.”

“The incessant increase in tuition and other school fees has transmogrified Philippine education into a lucrative business; a privilege rather than a fundamental right,” Elago said.

2. Junk all other school fees

The groups said the collection of other school fees “serves as a redundant, exorbitant, and monstrous twin of tuition increases and must therefore be abolished.”

3. Scrap the Education Act of 1982

The Education Act of 1982 “legitimized and institutionalized” tuition and other school fees hikes, and has made education inaccessible to the poor majority, said the youth groups. The law is reinforced by the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) Memorandum Order No. 3 issued in 2012, which the groups said “institutes a bogus system of consultations” which give rubber-stamp approval to annual tuition increases.

“The Education Act gravely compromised the basic right to education of the Filipino people and therefore, must be scrapped,” they said.

4. End commercialization and deregulation of education

“The policy of deregulation, which allows schools to set the rate of matriculation without any form of regulation, along with the policy of commercialization – or the treatment of education as a product or business venture – are the root causes of inaccessibility and unaffordability of education in the country. It is high time for the government to end these policies and fulfill its constitutional obligation to ensure that quality education is accessible at all levels.”

“If the government really has the heart to address the growing economic burden posted by soaring tuition rates, then it needs to address the extant policy of education deregulation,” Elago said.

She added that their group also wants to bring forward to the national consciousness the pervasive problem of skyrocketing school fees. “It is high time for the government to act on the worsening education crisis that has kept millions of students out of school,” Elago added. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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