The state of the education sector will undoubtedly worsen under the Aquino administration.
Exactly two years in his term, Aquino has bared his road map for Philippine education to serve its colonial master manifested in the implementation of K+12 program, the measly spending for SUCs, and the incessant tuition increases in both public and private universities.
These policies contradict the people’s right and interest to quality and free education. On the other hand, it fulfills the foreign and local private corporations’ hunger for profits.
Crisis in UP: Budget & STFAP
University of the Philippines (UP) is among the public-funded universities that continuously suffer due to meager state subsidy that is ever worsened by annual budget cuts.
The Aquino administration boasts of an increase in UP budget by 11 percent despite of the fact that it has actually dwindled a total amount of P6 million minus all the congressional initiatives. The allotment for personal services (PS) dropped by P600 million, while the maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) decreased by P2 million.
With the steady decrease in the allotment of Maintenance and Other Operating Expenditures (MOOE) for the past years, it is by no surprise why the UP administration increased our tuition fee by P500/unit by setting the millionaire’s Bracket A (P1,500/unit) as the default bracket from the 2006-approved Bracket B (P1,000/unit).
The new scheme has effectively generated around 4,000 UP Diliman students who paid P1,500/unit this semester, almost double from last year’s 2,413. It must also be noted that the total number of students under Bracket A increased by 660% since the implementation of the Bracket B certification in 2011.
Adverse impacts of tuition increase on the students and their families are undeniable. The high cost of UP education resulted to almost 1/3 of qualified students deferring their enrollment or dropping out from UP, record-high number of students applying for scholarships and loans, and more students entering into full-time or part-time jobs.
Clearly, the STFAP is an inconspicuous means to increase the university’s profit by making sure that more students are placed in the upper brackets. In fact, President Pascual admitted in a dialogue with student leaders that his administration is considering a raise for the Bracket A tuition fee.
Having Bracket A as the default bracket and having more students categorized in the said bracket, the raised tuition will undoubtedly bring UP education farther away from the reach of ordinary citizen.
Meanwhile, added burden will be brought about by proposals to increase laboratory fees in various units of the UP System. In UP Diliman, the administration of College of Human Kinetics expressed its intent to push through with the proposal to implement a P1,000/unit tuition for Physical Education subjects.
Furthering the crisis: K+12 program
The implementation of K+12 program aggravates the education crisis as it subscribes to the general design of abandonment of public tertiary education. With the implementation of K+12, high school education is designed to produce semi-skilled graduates that are ready for cheap employment by foreign and domestic corporations.
K+12 program provides a major contribution to the realization of President Aquino’s road map to state abandonment of public higher education. It sets the conditions to justify the decrease of SUCs, budget cuts, and rationalization programs.
As the capacity of SUCs to take in students decrease, students who opt to study higher education is left with no choice but to enroll in private colleges and universities. In these universities, the tuition rate and quality is kept unregulated by the government to satisfy the interest of corporate school owners for super profits.
Budget increase in 2013?
Now, the Department of Budget and Management boasts of its approval of a 43% increase in UP’s budget for 2013 (from P7.53 in 2012 B to P10.78 B). At the same time, it brags about the P10.85 billion increase (from P26.3 B in 2012 to P37.15 B) in SUC funding, which includes the addition from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as part of the reform roadmap designed by Commission on Higher Education (CHED), DBM and the SUCs themselves.
Is change now underway?
It must be noted that the increase was due to the general increase in the national budget, from P1.65 trillion this year to a targeted P2 trillion in 2013. The nominal increase in budget does not mean that positive changes are underway for the Filipino people. It does not indicate a major policy shift on the part of the Aquino administration.
In fact, debt servicing will continue to enjoy the greatest budget allocation due to automatic appropriations, mainly serving the interest of US and other superpowers. The Armed Forces of the Philipppines (AFP), accountable to numerous HR violations will surely get a lion’s share of the budget as AFP modernization will start by 2013. Meanwhile Conditional Cash Transfers dole-outs, a source of corruption and primarily used in civil-military operations in the countryside as part of Oplan Bayanihan, will be increased by 30%.
As for our University, the 2013 allotment is still way far from the university’s needs amounting to P18.4 billion, and it will never be enough to meet all the systemwide needs of UP. We also have to take into account that next year’s increase would not offset the cuts that were made in the past.
True enough, the approval of the 2013 budget does not necessarily signal the end of education’s commercialization. In fact, STFAP and other forms of income generation are encouraged by the Aquino administration to promote “self-sufficiency”, a condition for state abandonment.
The Road to Travel
We cannot doubt the victory of our militant collective action to call for greater spending for UP and education in the past years. Our analysis of Aquino’s education policies proves unrelenting need to continue to fight for our right to education.
But we fought and we will continue to struggle because we aspire for a major policy shift to prioritize education, social services, and the needs of the people over foreign interests. We are driven not by the desire for greater budget for UP alone, but for a nationalist, scientific, and mass-oriented type education.
We as iskolars ng bayan are determined to live up to our tradition as social critics in the service of the Filipino people. We shall launch multiple front campaigns for greater state subsidy for education and basic social services. We shall forward the people’s agenda in the campus, in government halls, and in the streets among the people to demand immediate action from the elite-ruled government that has deliberately ignored our rights and interests for long.
EDUCATION IS A RIGHT!
STOP TUITION INCREASE THROUGH STFAP!
SCRAP STFAP! ROLLBACK THE TUITION! FIGHT FOR GREATER STATE SUBSIDY!
OPPOSE US-AQUINO’S EDUC POLICY OF COMMERCIALIZATION!
STRUGGLE FOR A NATIONALIST, SCIENTIFIC, MASS-ORIENTED EDUCATION!
From Stand UP Diliman Website