Students walk out of classes to protest impending tuition hike

Protesters carried giant satirized school logos, some of which read “Unibersidad ng Sobrang Tubo for UST (university of excessive profit), “Fastest Earning University for FEU and “Commission for Highly Expensive Education” (Ched).

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA –February 28, students from different private schools and state universities and colleges walked out of their classes to condemn the new spate of fee increases that school administrations are set to impose next year. Last Friday was the last day of consultations regarding tuition increases in schools, as mandated by the Commission on Higher Education (Ched).

Students from the University of Santo Tomas (UST), National Teachers College (NTC), University of the East (UE), Far Eastern University (FEU), De La Salle University Manila, De La Salle University Araneta, University of Manila (UM), Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (Earist), Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) and other schools converged in front of UST along España in Manila at noon and marched to the Chino Roces Bridge (former Mendiola Bridge).

(Photo by Anne Marxze D. Umil/Bulatlat.com)
(Photo by Anne Marxze D. Umil/Bulatlat.com)

Protesters carried giant satirized school logos, some of which read “Unibersidad ng Sobrang Tubo for UST (university of excessive profit), “Fastest Earning University for FEU and “Commission for Highly Expensive Education” (Ched).

‘Bogus’ consultations

Section 5 of the Ched Memorandum Order (CMO) 3-2012 read “all Higher Education Institutions (HEI), public or private, intending to increase their tuition and other fees for the ensuing Academic Year (AY) shall conduct consultations, as hereinafter defined and provided, with their student councils/governments, and their faculty, alumni and/or non-teaching personnel associations.”

While some schools complied with the said requirement; some schools reportedly did not hold such or did it perfunctorily.

Josh, 19, a second year psychology major of Adamson University said that in their university, participation in consultations on tuition and other fee increases were limited to “recognized” student organizations. “But these organizations are passive. They don’t oppose the school administration’s policies including tuition and other fee increases. That is why since I entered fist year, the down payment for enrollment has been increasing every semester,” Josh told Bulatlat.com in an interview.

He said the in 2012, they had to pay P8,000 ($17.92) as down payment, but this increased to P10,000 ($223.97) for the second semester of academic year 2013-2014. And the “recognized student organizations” do not inform the students about the results of the consultations being called by the administration.

(Photo by Anne Marxze D. Umil/Bulatlat.com)
(Photo by Anne Marxze D. Umil/Bulatlat.com)

“We see it as a bogus consultation, because supposedly all the students should be informed.”

At De La Salle University Araneta, the school administration gave the notice about the consultation to the Supreme Student Council (SSC) one day before it would be held. “It is clear in Section 6 of the CMO (Ched Memorandum Order) 3-2012, that ‘Notices must be sent to all parties involved and conspicuously posted on the HEI’s bulletin boards at least 15 days before the dates of consultations.’ But the school administrations violated this and informed us only one day before,” Robert Gatbonton, fourth year BS English student and president of the SSC said in the short program at the Chino Roces Bridge. He said they were given notice on Feb. 25, the consultation was held on Feb. 26. The SSC walked out from the said consultation.

‘Tuition hikes violate our right to education’

According to the Tuition Monitor, in 2013 there was at least a 3.5 to 10 percent increase in tuition and a more than 300 percent increase in miscellaneous fees. “The average tuition for National Capital Region (NCR) alone is from P20,600 ($461.38) to P36, 650 ($820.85) for 21 units,” said Sarah Elago, national president of National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP).

Next school year, the group said, more than 400 public and private HEIs would increase their tuition and other fees.

“Tuition hikes violate our right to education. Every year that schools raise tuition and other fees, the youth’s promise of a bright future is getting dimmer. It’s like we’re peeping the light from a keyhole,” said Rise for Education Alliance spokesman Philip Bautista.

Lyka Pujante, 20, third year Customs Administration student also at Adamson University said her parents loan money every semester to pay for her education. “Every semester, we don’t know where to get money to pay for down payment,” she told Bulatlat.com. Her parents are minimum wage earners; they are five children in the family and she is the eldest. She said tuition and other fee increases are a scourge as it burdens both the parents and the students. “We dream of having a better life; why are they (the government) taking that away from us?” she said adding that the government should do something to make education accessible and affordable for all.

“Education is a right of every Filipino. It should be made affordable and accessible. In fact, it should be free to every youth of this nation,” said Gatbonton.

No more Kristel Tejada

“Isn’t the government bothered that students are literally taking their lives because they cannot continue with their studies?” said Vencer Crisostomo, chairman of the progressive youth group Anakbayan referring to the suicide of Kristel Tejada, a UP Behavioral Science major student of UP Manila.

“One year ago, we were here in Mendiola to condemn the government for what happened to Kristel. We will not allow that another student kills herself because she cannot pay her tuition,” said Krista Melgarejo, UP Student Regent. She said that after Tejada’s suicide, UP did not scrap the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP) but merely amended the UP System Code. “After one year, the tuition in UP stays at P1,500 ($34.09) per unit,” she added.

The students burned a mock registration form to show their opposition against the tuition fee increases and imposition of other fees. They vow to fight for a better future not only for them but the next generation as well.

“The issue of students from private or from public schools has no difference. We are all fighting for our right to education. Wherever this road will take us, let us fight together until we achieve what’s right not only for the Filipino youth but the people as well,” Majan Lazo said, president elect of the UST AB Student Council. (http://bulatlat.com)

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