Saturday, March 05, 2011

Davao students hold rally, protest new tuition fee hikes

Photo released by the League of Filipino Students shows some students who joined the rally Friday, March 4, 2011 in front of the regional office of the Commission on Higher Education in Davao City to protest against the proposed tuition hikes.

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Mar. 5, 2011) – Filipino students protesting proposed new increases in tuition fees staged a rally in front of the regional education headquarters in Davao City in Mindanao.

The Commission on Higher Education announced that at least 96 schools in Southern Mindanao have applied for new hikes in fees. The Friday rally was joined by dozens of students from different schools in Davao City.

“We are here to castigate the ‘Commission on Highly Expensive Education’ as the Aquino government failed to do its basic responsibility of ensuring quality and accessible education for every Filipino youth,” said Karlos Manlupig, a regional spokesman for the League of Filipino Students.

“The tuition fee hike will be tantamount to an increase in the number of student drop-outs, out of school youths, and less food on the table for a big number of middle class families who are finding it harder to send their children to school. Consequentially, this condition will result to the ballooning of the unemployment rate in the country,” he said.

He said CHED is mandated by the people and the constitution to regulate school fees, but the group criticized the agency and said it failed in protecting the interests of the students.

“CHED continues to blatantly sell out the rights of the youth by allowing the privatization of state universities and colleges and the reign-free collection of fees in private educational institutions. CHED is the spokesperson for the administrations of these profit-hungry educational institutions,” Manlupig said.

Manlupig said that more than 400 schools would have increases nationwide despite the assurance by CHED that only a few number of schools will have tuition fee increases this coming school year. This includes the Ateneo de Davao University (6% increase), University of Mindanao (8.3%) and Holy Cross of Davao College (9.99% increase).

“The Filipino people are already in their deathbeds because of the ever-worsening economic crisis which includes the recent price increases on basic commodities like oil, rice, flour, meat, vegetables and sardines,” Manlupig said.

The group also chastised the government for slashing state subsidy on education and prioritizing military expenditure, which they claim is a ”blatant betrayal” to the Filipino youth.

“It is deplorable how this government is fast in allocating money for the purchase of military hardware while the education sector has its one foot on the grave. No doubt, the Aquino administration will shamelessly allow educator-capitalists to monopolize the education sector and rake-in huge profits from the very pockets of the parents and students,” Manlupig said.

KABATAAN Party-list Representative Raymond Palatino recently filed House Bill 4286 or the Tuition Regulation Act of 2011, which seeks to control tuition and other fee increases and empower the students and parents by ensuring a democratic consultation and decision-making.

“It is high time that the education sector in our country be regulated. We urge both the local and national government to support HB 4286 and press for the immediate enactment of the Tuition Regulation Act,” Kabataan Party-list Coordinator Ronnie Clarion said.

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