‘Manong, bayad estudyante!’
AS THE new school year opens tomorrow, expect that most families will once again be faced with increasing financial troubles not only with the skyrocketing prices of basic commodities but also with the ever-fluctuating transportation fares.
That is why the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) should go beyond issuing meaningless reminders for all drivers of public utility vehicles, notably jeepneys and buses, to grant 20% fare discount to students in preschool, elementary, secondary and collegiate levels.
In the past decades, students often complained against rude drivers who refused to honor this old-fashioned fare discounts for them. The LTFRB should show some teeth in enforcing its Memorandum Circular 2011-004 by imposing stiff fines and penalties to these erring drivers.
Obviously, the student fare discounts would go a long way in easing up the financial burden of low-income families who could hardly send their children to school. But such discounts should be expanded further to also include establishments that benefit from students’ meager budget.
For one, the student fare discount should not only be limited during school days (Mondays to Fridays) but also during Saturdays, Sundays, Christmas and summer vacations, and other holidays as most of them have to go to school for their remedial or extracurricular activities.
Such student discounts should not also be limited only to transportation fares, whether land, air or sea, but also to restaurants and fast-food chains, bookstores, apparel shops, and all other business establishments as part of their corporate social responsibility.
Like other business establishments we know, a special student advantage card can also be issued to allow students to earn some points and be qualified to avail of special offers and deals for them. To encourage them, the government may consider giving them some sort of tax incentives.
Contrary to the LTFRB directive, similar special discounts should also be given to students taking up post-graduate studies as well as to teachers who also need to buy books and other school or educational tools and gadgets needed to become effective and efficient.
And at a time when taking up masteral and doctoral studies seems necessary, even graduate students should enjoy some discounts. If we are to encourage our young people on taking further studies, they should be given discounts as part of the government’s investment in their education.
That is the privilege of being a student. If we are to encourage our young people to go to school, the least thing we can do is to provide students some special discounts as a form of financial assistance to them and their families. Besides, you are not a student forever.
And very soon, our young people would hopefully become productive members of our society and would correctly pay their taxes due the government.