By NUSP, CEGP, ANAKBAYAN, KABATAAN PARTYLIST, PIGSA and KATRIBU YOUTH
Two years after the claim of the Aquino administration for a promise of “tuwid na daan” where he will supposedly prioritize the youth and education sector, his policies and programs that reflect the education situation in the country prove otherwise. There is still the prevailing condition of rise in school fees, low public spending in education, yearly budget cuts, and repression of academic freedom.
The continuing annual cuts in the budget of education only bring a higher loss in the school facilities causing a lower quality in education such that in every 100 students entering Grade 1, only 43 are able to finish high school. Only 11.5% of the national budget is allocated to the education sector, even lower from that of Arroyo’s 13%s, bringing a 23.8 Billion cut on the budget of State Universities and colleges. The opening of school year 2012-2013 marks the start of implementation of a ladderized program of 300% tuition increase in all state universities and colleges in Cordillera as proposed by CARSUC last year. This Tuition increase was patterned from the increase in tuition and other fees done in the whole UP system in 2006. CARSUC admitted that due to the Budget Cuts in Education done by the Aquino administration, the schools have become “paralyzed” because they no longer have operational budgets for building construction and water & sanitation facilities. The “vision” of the current administration in turning schools and universities to be 100% self-sufficient is a clear turning away from the state’s responsibility in providing quality and free education for its people as stated in the Constitution. Also, as with the case of the Cordillera colleges and universities, Aquino turns the school administrators and the parents & students against each other.
This increase in the tuition and other fees in SUCs give justification to the private schools to also increase their tuition yearly. These private schools mostly target incoming freshmen since the administration is not required to conduct consultations with them as stated in the CHED Memo 13. The loopholes of this memo do not spare the currently enrolled students since the schools increase their miscellaneous fees almost yearly. Again, the CHED Memo 13 does not require school administrators to conduct consultations with the students regarding increases in miscellaneous fees. Students are not given proper areas for consultation and are only given token information regarding the increases.
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) continues its ploy in passing to the students and the people the burden of tuition increases as dictated by the capitalist-educators. CHED justifies this by saying that there is the need to increase tuition and other fees due to the escalation in the prices of water and electricity. As such, education is being treated as a commodity that can only be afforded by those who have the capacity to pay. As a whole, the privatization of public schools and making them “self-sufficient,” are only part of the agenda of commercializing education.
One principle behind the K+12 program is that the students should be “trained” to become cheap labor forces or semi-skilled workers in vocational and technical courses in order to become OFWs with jobs such as caregiving. Apart from the untimely implementation of the K+12 program, English as a medium of communication is used in schools to propagate the elitist and pro-imperialist culture of education. This program, although seen as a failure by the people due to the lack of preparation, was still implemented throughout the nation to supposedly “answer” the problem in education. Aquino is blind to see the facts and figures given by the people that the K12 program is not yet fit to be used in the country given the budget cuts he has taken from the sector of education and the resulting lack of facilities, books and teachers. The opening of classes in pre-school and elementary this past week shows the unpreparedness of the schools for the K12 program where there are countless cases of more than 70 students being fitted in one classroom. Moreover, teachers are only given only the summer months to take seminars on teaching under the K12 program.
This type of education system is further intensified by the repressive policies of school administrations to “maintain peace and order” in the schools. This is manifested in the violation of the democratic rights of students like the lack of consultations during tuition fee increase proposals, consent and representation of the student body in issues that affect them, repressive policies for school organizations and the return of ROTC. These policies of colleges and universities are used to gear towards the maintenance of the status quo that is anti-people.
The Aquino government clearly denies its people the right to education as it also denies them their right on other social services. The K12 program should not be implemented without the required proper preparations that would cater to this new curriculum. The government must first address the shortages in teachers, facilities, classrooms and textbooks before it explores this type of programs. Aquino boasts that the 4.2 billion pesos added to the budget of SUCs last year is even conditional such that this fund cannot be easily accessed by colleges and universities. Furthermore, this additional budget is a far cry from the 40billion budget that should be allocated for the education sector.
Progressive youth organizations call on the government to stop the K12 program which was not yet even passed into a law, and implement the Quality Kinder Education Program passed this January 2012. It must first address the immediate needs of the education sector before trying to compete with the curriculum of other countries. Aquino must not hide from his true agenda of producing export-quality high school graduates that would cater the needs of foreign countries for caregivers and menial jobs. This administration needs to produce a type of education that is affordable for all of its citizens, patterned with the scientific needs and conditions of the country and promotes the study of national cultures and history. # nordis.net
* National Union of Students of the Philippines, College Editors Guild of the Philippines Cordillera, Anakbayan Cordillera, Kabataan Partylist, Progressive Igorots for Social Action, Katribu Youth