Editorial: Rising cost of education

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Sunday, May 18, 2014


THE Department of Education (Deped) has announced that it has allowed 1,299 private elementary and high schools in the country to raise their tuition by five to 35 percent for school year 2014 to 2015.

The number does not include tuition increases in private colleges and universities.

The Commission on Higher Education (Ched) said that it is still evaluating tuition hike petitions throughout the country. An official said that around 10 to 15 percent of colleges and universities nationwide increase their tuition every year.

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Unlike the prices of petroleum products that go up with the possibility of going down, tuition rates only remain the same for a time, that is, if these do not go up. There’s no such thing as tuition rollback.

Which is why both Deped and Ched should have been careful in evaluating petitions for tuition hikes. But while education officials do go through the motions of "evaluating" the petitions, these are, more often than not, approved.

One education official, answering complaints about the tuition increases, said that parents who cannot afford private school education can enroll their children in public schools or in state colleges and universities. But we already know the public education situation in the country. State colleges and universities, meanwhile, can only absorb a small number of enrollees.

Besides, having an alternative is not an argument for allowing runaway increases in tuition in private schools. The ideal should have been that the hikes should not be higher than the country’s inflation rate within a given period.

Then again, despite the constancy of the yearly tuition increases, education continues to be a lucrative business. Enrollment in elite schools that collect high tuition remains brisk probably because of an economy propped up by remittances from overseas Filipino workers and by Pinoys who have relocated abroad but are supporting their relatives here.

This also partly explains the difference in the reactions now to tuition increases compared with those in the past. In the early ‘70s and in the ‘80s, a small increase in tuition could already spark widespread rallies and boycotts of classes. That is no longer happening today.

Perhaps that is the key. Preventing the rise in the cost of education needs vigilance and unified action by those affected by it.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 19, 2014.

Opinion

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