June 1, 2018
QUEZON CITY – Students, teachers, and education advocates gathered and held a press conference to discuss the persistent issues and problems in the country’s education system.
“Despite the passage of Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, the fundamental problems in the country’s system remain. Thus, the fight for free, accessible, and quality education continues,” said Rise for Education National Convenor Mark Vincent Lim.
Rise for Education is a nationwide and multi-sectoral alliance of different student councils and publications from high schools and universities, youth organizations, members of the academe, parents, out-of-school youth, and citizens from all walks of life calling for quality education that is free and accessible to all.
Free education now
“Free education means not a single peso should be collected from students. A ‘no collection policy’ must be in place. However, obtaining funds from students in support of campus press and representation through their duly-elected councils, must continue,” said Kabataan Party-list Deputy Secretary-General Angelica Reyes.
“Free education should also be implemented without delays and preconditions. Budgetary support for the immediate roll out of 'free education, no collection' in all public tertiary education institutions should be given without delay. In addition, the Return Service System, embedded in Republic Act 10931’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR) as an additional requirement for free education, must be scrapped, as it undermines the right to education. Instead of ‘forced labor’ disguised as civic obligation, public tertiary schools should democratically create a blueprint to urge and empower students to serve the people and nation,” said Reyes.
Tuition and other school fees hikes
“Another round of tuition and other school fees hikes is looming. This year, we are expecting that around 400 schools shall have tuition hikes at a rate of 6-10 percent. It is as if this has been the way of private schools in welcoming the youth back to school,” said National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) Deputy Secretary-General Kenji Muramatsu.
According to the Union, adding to the burden to the tuition and other schools fees (TOSF) increase is the increase in prices due to the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.
“The TOSF hike is as alarming as how prices went up after the TRAIN Law has been implemented. From their tuition and other school fees, to their necessities in school such as school supplies, books, and food, the added cost of their education makes the burden even heavier. It is indeed a double-whammy towards the students and their parents,” Muramatsu claimed.
The student union also lambasted the current administration’s “apparent bias” towards private higher education institutions (HEIs). “CHED and Duterte fail miserably in protecting the rights of students to education. They are even the ones who push students to study in private HEIs, while they allow the non-stop increase in TOSF for the profits of capitalist-educators,” Muramatsu ended.
Stop K-12 program
“The K-12 program is the worst neoliberal attack on Philippine education. Since its pilot implementation in year 2015, it has failed in its promise of employability and higher quality of education for the youth. The added two (2) years in basic education guarantee the capitalist-educators more profit from private high schools, and worsen the already substandard school facilities and equipment in public high schools. K-12 legitimizes contractualization among teachers and at the same time creates more mechanisms to breed students into labor exports or additions to the pool of cheap and docile laborers,” said League of Filipino Students (LFS) National Spokesperson Kara Lenina Taggaoa.
“As this year marks the first batch of the K-12 graduates, there is no bright future that awaits them. Statistics from Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) have declared that K-12 has failed to train competent employees who are worthy of being hired in companies,” ended Taggaoa.
Wage hike and rewarding benefits for teachers
“To uphold the public character of all government-funded tertiary education institutions, a substantial increase in state subsidy must be allotted to support capital improvement, and faculty development necessary to expand operations, and cater more students. Campus facilities and services must be adequate for quality and effective learning and teaching experience,” said Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines Chairperson Benjamin Valbuena.
“Teachers, academic personnel and workers, who have long suffered from low wages, contractualization and high prices of goods, should be given just, decent, and rewarding salaries and benefits,” said Valbuena.
Uphold democratic rights and welfare
“Student councils, campus press, faculty union, and campus sectoral organizations serve a significant role in the pursuit of free education and the advancement of rights and welfare of the Filipino people. Their autonomy must be upheld and they must be free from any form of control and intervention so they can independently pursue principled positions, collaborative programs, and fruitful alliance work,” said College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) National President Jose Mari Callueng.
“Militarization of indigenous peoples’ schools should be stopped and their right to education, ancestral domain, and self-determination should be upheld,” said PASAKA-SMR Chairperson Kerlan Fanagel.
Rise for education
“It is high time for the government to backpedal on these policies that have kept millions of Filipinos out of school, and fulfill its constitutional obligation to ensure that quality education is accessible at all levels,” said Lim.
“On June 19, education advocates – students, parents, teachers, administrators, personalities, and public officials – will gather at the Rise for Education National Summit in UP Diliman to discuss the updates and prospects of our education campaign and to forge our plan of actions,” said Lim.
“Together, we continue the struggle for an education that fosters patriotism and nationalism, and equips the students with the knowledge and skills needed to dedicatedly pursue a truly independent and prosperous Philippines,” ended Lim.