Unacquainted or simply inutile?
NUSP derided the CHEd for “merely appealing” to school administration rather than using its “regulatory power” to stop fee hikes.
Kabataang Pinoy said that CHEd has been nothing but a “legal stamp pad” to tuition and other fee increases since its inception. “The commission is either unaware of its regulatory powers or is simply refusing to enforce it,” said the group.
The student groups also questioned the CHEd Memorandum No. 13 (CMO 14), that is currently being used as the guideline in implementing fee increases in higher learning institutions.
NUSP stressed that CMO 13 is “useless in terms of safeguarding the students and parents from soaring tuition hikes.” Further, the current guidelines failed to “ensure that they are being duly consulted on the matter of fee increases,” said the group.
Because of the alleged loose implementation of the already “flawed” guidelines, NUSP reported that quite a number of schools have been violating CMO 13 without being held accountable.
Alvin Peters, NUSP national president, urged lawmakers to investigate these cases and penalize school officials who violated the guidelines. Several universities allegedly increased and imposed other fees without consultation with the students.
Legislating reforms in education
Meanwhile, House Bill (HB) 2440, which calls for a three-year moratorium on all tuition and other fee hikes, is being pushed by Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño.
In a press conference, Casiño related that even House Speaker Prospero Nograles is supporting the bill that is currently filed at the House Committees on Higher Technical Education and Basic Education and Culture. Other authors of the bill include House Deputy Minority Leader Satur Ocampo, Iloilo representative Darlene Antonino-Custodio and Gabriela partylist representatives Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan.
He said that the appeal made by Angeles is not enough since private schools are operating in a deregulated set-up, which each institutions having the complete prerogative on increasing their fees. Last year, despite CHEd’s similar appeal, 372 schools increased their tuition.
What CHEd has to do, stressed Casiño, is to provide strict guidelines on regulating fee increases.
Casiño said that the bill is a “temporary measure” aiming to “address the impact of the global financial crisis.” He added that HB 2440 will help keep the number of drop-outs due to the crisis from surging. Further, the bill will help school owners avoid losing enrollees who have the choice to transfer to other schools with affordable education.
Casiño also explained that more and more Filipinos fail to send their children to school each year because of the worsening poverty and the constant increase in education costs. Since 2003, tuition is increasing by an average of 15 percent every year.
He stressed the need to legislate the tuition hike moratorium. This, according to Casiño, stems from the constant failure of CHEd and DepEd to stop tuition increases, which is supposed to be one of these institutions’ main mandates.
HB 2440, being a short-term measure, should be complemented by a long-term solution. Similar bills are already filed at the Lower House, particularly HBs 1407 and 1274. These bills aim to form a “tuition regulatory board” that will monitor and regulate fees and prevent schools from implementing unnecessary increases.
Regulating the country’s educational system will be the solution to the chronic problem of high education costs, Casiño reiterated.
Meanwhile, Recedes said that governmental policies should be changed to address fundamental problems in education.
He said that the passage of Education Act of 1982 has been the reason why educational institutions are operating in an “essentially deregulated system” and are now being reduced to “mere profit-oriented institutions.” He added that included in the top 5,000 corporations in the country are educational institutions such as the Centro Escolar University, STI College and UE.
He urged CHEd and the government to “side with the students instead of favoring only the owners of schools.”
Kabataang Pinoy said the “ailing state of education in the country shows the urgency to reassess the effectiveness and sufficiency of existing laws and policies” in education in the country.
These groups will be holding more mass actions in the coming weeks to stop fee increases. They are gathering signatures for the manifesto of student unity against fee hikes. They are also demanding for the abolition of the Education Act of 1982 and the immediate implementation of reforms in education. (Bulatlat.com)