State of the Nation’s Youth
As Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo prepares to deliver her eighth State of the Nation Address (SONA), the youth and students across the country is preparing for another class walk-out this coming Monday to join other sectors in a protest rally where the real state of the nation shall be heard.
For us, a bleak future has become the legacy of the Arroyo administration. For the past seven years, education has become less accessible for Filipino students as a result of the rising cost of tuition and other fees collected in our schools. Besides the worsening crisis in the education sector, we also face rising food and fuel prices bringing along with them the cost of other basic commodities.
Based on the budget received by the Department of Education, the government spends only P12 per student per day. This is appallingly less than the P14 that they spend on an M16 bullet. In fact, government subsidy to education has been on a consistent decline since Arroyo came to power. In 2001, the government was spending a measly 3.3% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on education. The amount, which already falls short of the United Nations prescription of a minimum 6% of the GDP, dropped to 2.4% in 2006.
Since 2001, the national average tuition rate has risen by almost 70%. In the National Capital Region, the average tuition rate has risen by 118.53%. Other than tuition fees, ridiculous miscellaneous fees continues to be invented and collected by schools and universities. Examples of these include are the postal fee, insurance fee, Smart fee and copier fee at theAMA Computer University, power charge fee at the Trinity University of Asia among many others.
This is the result of the continued coddling of the Arroyo government of capitalist vultures who prey on the misery of their students. Since last year, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has relinquished its power to control tuition hikes in private schools by suspending CHED Memorandum 14 and its amendments, thereby deregulating tuition hikes in private tertiary institutions by removing the tuition cap which was pegged at the annual inflation rate.
Iskolars ng Bayan (Scholars of the People) that are enrolled in State Colleges and Universities (SCUs) are not exempt from the rising cost of education. Arroyo’s tuition moratorium stopping tuition hikes in SCUs this year is over a year late for freshmen enrolled at the University of thePhilippines that implemented a 300% tuition hike in 2006 and for students at the Eugelio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (EARIST) that raised its tuition from P15 to P100 per unit, a 600% increase.
At the same time, miscellaneous fees are not covered by the worthless moratorium. UP’s miscellaneous fees rose at an average of P1,500-P2,000 from P500-P800. The PolytechnicUniversity of the Philippines (PUP) meanwhile has implemented a P250 Development Fee this academic year.
But it is not only rising tuition and school fees that the students have to cope up with. Our parents and us have to bear the brunt of the economic crisis. It is estimated that a family spends as much as P20,000 pesos on transportation, food, and school supplies for every child each school year.
Thus, it no longer comes as a surprise that more and more students are dropping out of school each year. Only 58 out of every 100 students that enter Grade 1 enters high school and only 14 of them is estimated to earn a college degree.
We therefore call on our fellow students to go out on the streets this Monday where the real state of the nation shall be heard. Enough with Arroyo’s empty promises, and lies that “Ramdam ang Kaunlaran” (Progress is felt). Only by removing a corrupt president who has sold us to capitalist educators can we hope for a brighter future. ###
Vencer Crisostomo, LFS Chairperson
Ken Ramos, ANAKBAYAN Chairperson