Student groups march for ‘free tuition for all’
ILOILO CITY — Student and youth groups here are gearing up for a series of protest actions to call for “genuine” free education less than a month before the school year opens.
About 50 members of Anakbayan and the Kabataan Partylist and several parents displayed placards and banners in front of the Iloilo provincial capitol on Wednesday calling on state colleges and universities (SCUs) not to collect tuition and other fees in line with the “free tuition” policy of the Duterte administration.
“The policy should cover all those eligible to be enrolled and not a select few,” Bryan Bosque, spokesperson of Anakbayan in Panay, said.
Bosque said Anakbayan has decided to reject proposals to implement a socialized tuition fee program similar to that being implemented in the University of the Philippines system, whereby students for years have been charged for fees depending on their income.
“This scheme distorts the principle that education is a right for all. The socialized tuition scheme has only been used to generate income for SCUs when it is the responsibility of the government to provide funds for education,” Bosque said.
Congress has allotted P8.3 billion to cover the tuition of around 1.4 million students in 114 SCUs for school year 2017-2018.
But youth groups have condemned the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the free tuition policy.
They said the IRR would cover only tuition and students and their parents would still need to shell out for other fees such as laboratory and miscellaneous fees.
The free tuition policy will also prioritize existing beneficiaries of the student financial assistance programs.
Bosque’s group believes that it is within the means of the government to implement free education for all students regardless of income.
In Western Visayas, some 20 private schools have submitted their letters of intent to increase tuition to the Commission on Education
Not all would be endorsed to the CHEd central office due to failure to comply with requirements and not meeting the February 28 submission deadline, said Rex Casiple CHEd 6 chief education program specialist.
He said the tuition increase would be based on the inflation rate of Western Visayas which has been pegged at 1.8 percent.
He declined to identify the schools that have applied for tuition increase because these have not been finalized and endorsed to their central office. SFM/rga
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