STUDENTS from several colleges and universities in Baguio City walked out from their schools Friday, March 11, in the observance of the “National Walkout Day Against Tuition and Other School Fee Increases.”
Prior to the walk-out, students from Baguio and Benguet held a protest rally in front of the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) in La Trinidad against the yearly tuition fee increases.
National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUJP) Baguio-Benguet spokesperson Gene Roz Jamil de Jesus said they are calling for democratic rights in the education sector though affordable education.
The youth sector unveiled their four-point protest demand which includes stop tuition and other fee increases; junk all other school fees; scrap the Education Act of 1982; and end the commercialization and deregulation of education.
“For the past years, we have been requesting Ched to release data and justification on the tuition and miscellaneous fee increases but we were never provided,” De Jesus said.
De Jesus, a student of the University of the Philippines-Baguio said Ched is mandated to conduct consultations prior to the approval of tuition and miscellaneous fee increases in schools.
“Ched would always claim they have conducted consultations but not inclusive since only the student body is being asked; other organizations representing special groups are exempted,” De Jesus said.
De Jesus added that simple change in the leadership Ched would not suffice for a better system of education the country.
“We need a system of education that is nationalist, scientific and mass-oriented not business-minded,” de Jesus added.
Kabataan Party-list Cordillera regional coordinator Niño Oconer said the rally also focuses on the campaign against presidential bet Mar Roxas, “being a puppet of the Aquino administration.”
Oconer said that since 2010, there have been no let-up in the annual tuition and miscellaneous fee increases among colleges and universities in Baguio.
“If 'Daang Matuwid' will continue through Roxas, I fear more tuition fee increases in the coming years; so we also call for Ched Commissioner Patricia Licuanan to step down,” Oconer said.
In a study released by Kabataan Party-list, it was revealed that with the incessant increase in tuition and other school fees each year, not only tuition and other school rates almost doubled under Aquino's presidency, but the profits of top private universities as well.
The youth believes that the high cost of learning is one of the largest barriers to access to education.