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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Chiz: Palace Should Order Freeze On All Other Fees In State Schools

Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero today said the government should include all other fees and charges in its order for a moratorium in tuition in all state universities and colleges (SUCs). “There are a lot of charges in the fine print of matriculation,” he said in a statement.

Escudero said that combined appropriation for all state universities and colleges this year is 22.56 billion pesos. Collections from tuition and other fees form a big part of the internally generated income of about 8.87 billion pesos raised by SUCs.

The senator pointed out that the total budget of 31.44 billion is enough to cover the operating costs of SUCs, pointing out that the proposed 20 percent increase in salaries of government personnel including teachers in SUCs “is not contingent on hiking tuition fees” as the funds will come from the national government.

“The pay hike for teachers should not be used to justify the raising of tuition and other fees,” Escudero said. The opposition senator also supported calls for a moratorium on tuition fees for private schools this coming school year even as he urged the Commission on Higher Education to review all petitions for tuition fee increases including those that were imposed in the past years over the objections of students and their parents.

“We need to find out where the schools spent the revenues raised from previous tuition fee increases and where they intend to spend it this time,” he said in a statement. Escudero said the CHED can do so because it has the mandate to make sure that Filipino families have access to and can afford higher education.

“Right now, the rate of attrition among those who are able to send their children to school is very disturbing. What is emerging is a new class of refugees. Students are dropping out of school or transferring to other schools because of the escalating costs of education," he pointed out. Escudero also called on the government to find ways to support private schools in these times.

"We are in deep economic trouble and it could still get worse. We need to immediately put safety nets in place for our students and educators," he said.

Escudero said he will initiate moves in the Senate to review the Education Act of 1982 in the light of current developments, especially the bankruptcy of pre-need companies that left thousands of students out in the cold. "We have to help each other in these times. There is no other way," he said.

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