STUDENTS all over the country have been protesting against impending tuition and other fee increases (TOFI) in schools, universities and colleges. In the Far Eastern University, the student council boycotted the student consultations for the fees increase and students launched a series of protests at their school gate.
Students from the University of the East and the University of Santo Tomas (UST) initiated a mobile photo booth, petition-signing and a freedom wall where students could write their sentiments against TOFI. Students of UST and Saint Louis University in Baguio held rallies against TOFI. Rise for Education Baguio initiated an information dissemination drive in social media through infographics on TOFI.
Meanwhile, the University Student Council of De La Salle Araneta University launched a black shirt day against TOFI, Facebook frame movements and social media rallies. Students of Holy Angel University in Pampanga issued comprehensive statements and social media rallies. Rise for Education Cebu trooped at the CHED Region 7 Office.
This year, 1,400 private schools nationwide, both in basic and higher education, are set to propose fees hikes. Last year, Ched justified increases to tuition and other school fees (TOSF) by pointing to TRAIN Law and the rising prices of goods and services, making the average increase of last year’s TOSF up to as high as 6%, greater than the usual 3-4% increase.
This year, another often cited reason for fee increases is the K-12 program. Schools argue that they need to earn more from their remaining, smaller student population because K-12 has drastically lessened the population of college students for two years.
For AY 2019-2020, college student population in schools will be composed mostly of first year and second year students. Having their school fees increased will be unfair for them, because they are the ones who already bore the burden of the additional costs incurred due to two more years of schooling in K-12. They must not shoulder the costs that result from the side effects of adjusting to the K-12 program.
Also, school fee increases will keep more Filipino students out of college. Upon the first wave of implementation of K-12, the number of drop-outs in senior high school has amounted to 400,000 students who should have been considered as high school graduates were it not for the program.
Private school students are yet to enjoy the Tertiary Education Subsidy, one of the four key components of RA 10931. In a statement by Senator Bam Aquino, he said that “while tuition and miscellaneous fees are already free in state universities and colleges (SUCs), students in private school have yet to benefit from the provision of the Free College Law that provides a Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) for poor but deserving students who choose to go to private schools.”
CHED has released P4 billion, but the remaining P11.2 billion fund is yet to be distributed. CHED regulations and bureaucracy hinder students from benefiting from the financial assistance which should be available to them.--RAOUL MANUEL, NATIONAL UNION OF STUDENTS OF THE PHILIPPINES