Higher education budget, not privatization-A A +A
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
AFTER prolonging the agony of our parents in the primary and secondary education, which is additional expenses, the government is now into moves that will further deprive many Filipino families of the right to education by privatizing it.
Government’s plan to build new schools and classrooms is good but not under and through the private-public partnership (PPP) program, a euphemism for privatization.
The Department of Education (DepEd) recently announced that it targets to have 9,332 new classrooms built by 2013 under the PPP.
The PPP for School Infrastructure program of the DepEd, in coordination with the PPP Center and the Department of Finance, will assume classroom construction under the build-lease-transfer (BLT) arrangement, where DepEd will pay the private proponent through financial lease up to 10 years. On the side, the Department of Budget Management will issue a Multi-Year Obligation Authority (MYOA) which will cover for deferred government payments to the private proponent.
The government should rather address school backlogs by directly increasing resource allocation to education.
I agree with studies of IBON Databank EfD that the government should review priorities and re-channel resources directly to the delivery of basic social services to the people.
IBON argued that pouring the people’s money into an unevaluated practice has been proven unsuccessful in other countries, with the cost of entering into PPPs outweighing public benefits.
In the United Kingdom (UK), for instance, the cost of capital of PPPs exceeded 8%, which was more than double the cost if government implemented the project by itself. The school buildings, which turned out to be poorly designed by the private firms, cost the UK government more to maintain through the years.
What is disturbing is the DepEd paper on PPP for School Infrastructure brazenly stating that “through the PPP framework, a social need is transformed into a business opportunity of sufficient ‘economic scale’ that would encourage value engineering”.
This position is tantamount to surrendering the task of ensuring this social service to business interests. With that, the trend of the growing number of children dropping out of school every year due to the rising costs will certainly be exacerbated.
We have enough experiences with privatization involving strategic state public utilities and industries, like water, power, hospital, state education, among others, which have led to higher costs and increasing debt burden for the public.
Education is not a privilege but a right of every Filipino citizen. The state has the chief role in ensuring that every Filipino child is not deprived of this right.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on June 19, 2012.