Youth solon warns against pas­sage of free tu­ition bill

Cebu Daily News - - IS­LANDS - IN­QUIRER.NET

The Ka­bataan Partylist has warned that the House bill on fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance that gives pri­or­ity to “poor but de­serv­ing stu­dents” is be­ing used to jus­tify tu­ition in­crease in­stead of scrap­ping it al­to­gether.

In a state­ment, Ka­bataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago vowed to block what she called as “con­tentious” pro­vi­sion of House Bill 5633 or “An Act Pro­mot­ing Uni­ver­sal Ac­cess to Qual­ity Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion by Pro­vid­ing for Free Tu­ition and Other School Fees in State Uni­ver­si­ties and Col­leges and State-Run Tech­ni­calVo­ca­tional In­sti­tu­tions, Strength­en­ing the Uni­fied Stu­dent Fi­nan­cial As­sis­tance Sys­tem for Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion, and Ap­pro­pri­at­ing Funds There­for.”

“In par­tic­u­lar, we will move to: (1) scrap the pol­icy on giv­ing pri­or­ity to ‘poor but de­serv­ing’ stu­dents; (2) abol­ish tu­ition and other school fees; (3) in­clude grad­u­ate stu­dents for free ed­u­ca­tion; and (4) scrap the pref­er­en­tial guar­an­tee for pri­vate higher ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions,” Elago said.

Elago said the pol­icy to pri­or­i­tize “poor but de­serv­ing stu­dents” was rem­i­nis­cent of the Univer­sity of the Philip­pines’ “flawed so­cial­ized tu­ition sys­tem which was used to mask tu­ition in­creases and helped UP amass bil­lions of pe­sos in profit.”

“Theguiseof ‘pri­or­i­tiz­ing the poor’ has been used to le­git­imize tu­ition and other school fee in­creases un­der the ne­olib­eral frame­work of gear­ing SUCs (state uni­ver­si­ties and col­leges) to gen­er­ate their own in­come thru so­cial­ized tu­ition schemes, pri­va­ti­za­tion of school ser­vices, and uti­liza­tion of idle as­sets,” she said.

“Al­though it’s ex­plic­itly stated that no tu­ition and other school fees will be charged from the stu­dents, we’re wor­ried that SUCs might in­crease tu­ition and other school fees to get more from the free ed­u­ca­tion sub­sidy fund. At the same time, they’ll be able to in­crease col­lec­tion from grad­u­ate stu­dents who are not cov­ered by free ed­u­ca­tion. That’s why we are also push­ing that grad­u­ate stu­dents be in­cluded for free tu­ition and other school fees,” Elago added.

The youth solon like­wise protested the pro­posal in the bill to al­lo­cate P25 bil­lion for the cre­ation of a Na­tional Stu­dent Loan Pro­gram for stu­dents study­ing in pri­vate higher ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions (HEIs) and lo­cal uni­ver­si­ties and col­leges (LUCs).

C it ingh igh un­em­ploy­ment and un­der­em­ploy­ment rates, Elago la mented that stu­dents would re­main in­debted even years after grad­u­a­tion as they would not be able to find a sta­ble job to pay for their loans.

“It’s guar­an­teed profit to pri­vate HEIs. It’s akin to the K to 12 voucher pro­gram where funds go di­rectly to pri­vate schools ,” she said./


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