Youth solon seeks freeze on tuition

AMID the current explosion of national youth and student strikes against education budget cuts, Kabataan Rep. Raymond Palatino yesterday filed in Congress a bill seeking to put a three-year stop to what he calls the “unbounded increase” of tuition and other fees nationwide.

“The bill seeks to affirm the constitutional principle that education is a fundamental right of every Filipino,” Palatino said.

He said the youth’s right to education “has been bypassed and devalued in the national budget and existing laws, in particular, Education Act of 1982, which allows schools owners to have a free hand to increase tuition and other fees.”

According to the research of Kabataan, the national average of the tuition rate in private colleges and universities in the past nine years has almost doubled from P257.41 per unit in 2001 to P501.22 (94.72%) per unit in 2010.

In the National Capital Region (NCR), the average rate of P439.59 per unit in 2001 has increased to P980.54 (123.06%) per unit in 2010. Given these, a college student in the NCR with a 21-unit load has to shell out an average of P20, 591 per semester.

Palatino said that the impetus behind the “unbounded increase of school rate nationwide has been for more profit than service.”

“In truth, teachers and students alike do not often benefit from the incremental proceeds of tuition hikes,” he said.

In the case of state universities and colleges (SUCs), Palatino said that the “systematic abandonment” of government responsibility to education is the “culprit” why SUCs are forced to increase tuition.

He said that the moratorium bill will also include SUCs and that the freeze will allow further legislation to “re-confirm how SUCs  are supposed to function – as schools for the people.”

Palatino clarified that the moratorium bill does not aim to jeopardize the interest of academic employees for higher wages.

“To also protect the interest of teachers and other academic employees, the Moratorium bill clearly states that in no way should their salaries be stagnant during the three-year tuition and other fee hike freeze. Over the years, many school owners have raked in millions instead of providing academic employees higher wages. The bill seeks to counter the machination of many school owners to increase tuition for the sake of profit and not for better wages of academic employee and  the improvement of school facilities and other student services,” he said.

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