[Press Release] Progressive Youth Groups Slam CHED for Pro-Business, Anti-Student Policies -SPARK

Progressive Youth Groups Slam CHED for Pro-Business, Anti-Student Policies
Memos issued within the year condemned for raising tertiary education costs

A week before the anticipated week-long suspension of classes due to the APEC Summit, students from different universities in Metro Manila stormed the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) head office to protest against policies and positions it issued within the year deemed to be slanted in favor of big businesses at the expense of the youth.


Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK) led the mobilization condemning the office, led by CHED Chairperson Patricia Licuanan for resolutions and policies it released in the past year, which include enabling 313 private universities and colleges to raise the cost of tuition fees without regulation, and the memorandum dated July 13, 2013 which forces college undergraduates who have yet to complete their college degrees by 2018 to start high school over again, as part of the transition towards the K to 12 program.

“As governments of the Asia-Pacific converge in the country to discuss economic policies which will make it easier for big businesses to grow, the youth must remind its own government of the effects of unbridled profiteering in the context of education,” said SPARK National Coordinator Vin Buenaagua.

“CHED’s decision last May raised the cost of private higher education institutions to raise tuition costs across all regions by 6.48 percent in this year alone, with 283 schools increasing their tuition fees with an average of 30 pesos per unit, while 212 schools increased other school fees by 135 pesos.”

Buenaagua also noted how the wide-scale tuition hike coincided with the death of Jhoemary Azaula, a graduating student from Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (EARIST), wherein affordability of education in the State University was a significant factor. “We cannot forget the deaths of our fellow students Jhoemary, Rosemary Sanfuego and Kristel Tejada, in the same way we cannot forget Dr. Licuanan’s statement saying that college education in the Philippines is a privilege, justifying the Commission’s lack of initiative in making it more accessible,” Buenaagua added.

Costly education towards cheap labor

Students marched with some wearing togas and sablays clad with logos of multinational corporations, the real winners in the rampant privatization of public education and the increased support for technical and vocational training programs.

“Malinaw kung ano ang ibig sabihin ng higher education para sa CHED at sa administrasyong Aquino,” (“It is clear what higher education means for CHED and the Aquino administration,”) said SPARK Coordinator Lyndon Gomez. “Ito ay walang-iba kung hindi edukasyong para lumikha ng mas maraming mumurahing teknikal at bokasyunal na manggagawa para sa mga kumpanya.” (“It means nothing but an education aimed at producing a wave of cheap technical and vocational workers for the company.”)

Gomez cites how pro-business, neoliberal policies of deregulation, privatization and state abandonment diminishes the freedom of students, especially those from impoverished families, to choose the kind of life they want to lead. “Sa aming paaralan, kitang-kita kung paano ang paglago ng pondo at suporta para sa mga kursong teknikal at bokasyunal kasabay ng pagkawala ng slots para sa iba pang mga kurso,” (“In our school, it is obvious how support and funds for technical and vocational courses increased while slots available for students to take other courses decreased,”) Gomez said.

The increased private sector participation in State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) coupled with increasing rates for tuition and other fees are also among the issues raised by the students. “The ongoing development plan for the University of the Philippines shows how private companies profit from state abandonment,” said UP Diliman University Student Council (USC) College of Science Representative Joanne Lim of Nagkakaisang Iskolar para sa Pamantasan at Sambayanan (KAISA-UP).

“Coupled with the millions-worth of revenue generated through the Socialized Tuition System (STS) which will enable the University to run and function on its own like a corporation, UP is becoming more of a venue for good business and less of a venue for accessible education.”

After a brief program, the students peacefully dispersed from the first of the series of actions it has set in the duration of the APEC Summit. “SPARK to engage the dialogue of world leaders with an alternative platform of creating political and economic cooperation and policies centered on progress and justice, instead of profit and business,” said Buenaagua. “This includes our campaign for free and accessible education, a necessary tool for the development of individuals across nations.”

Press Release
10 November 2015

Reference: Vin Buenaagua 0915-56140703

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