High school students storm DepEd, demand end to mandatory fee collection in public high schools
High school students, led by youth group Anakbayan, marched to the Department of Education’s national office today to demand an immediate halt to the continued mandatory collection of fees in some public high schools.
According to initial reports from Anakbayan high school chapters, Culiat and Quirino High Schools (both in Quezon City) forces all of its students to pay the PTA (parent-teacher association) fee of 340 and 390, respectively. Ramon Magsaysay and Balara High Schools, both also in Q.C, charge other mandatory fees.
“The charging of mandatory fees defeat the entire purpose of public elementary and secondary schools. Parents send their kids their because they can barely make ends meet, much less afford the cost of a private school education” said Anakbayan national vice-chairperson Anton Dulce.
He added “While such fees may not seem much, they actually pose a huge burden to the many poor families today. For example, the PTA fees charged by Culiat HS and Quirino HS are almost equal to one day’s salary of a worker in Metro Manila. It is also more than a third of what a family needs to live decently in one day.”
In the NCR, the minimum wage for workers is presently pegged at P404. Meanwhile, the daily cost of living for an average family is at P917.
Anakbayan members further reported that in all four cases, the school administrations were said to have told their students that those who will not pay by July 1 “would be flunked”.
“This is nothing but black mail in the part of the school administrators. It also highlights the need for the top leadership of the DepEd to directly intervene and strictly enforce their own ‘no mandatory fees’ policy in public high schools” said the youth leader.
Anakbayan meanwhile challenged incoming DepEd secretary Bro. Armin Luistro, as well as the entire Aquino Administration, to make this issue a priority in their first 100 days in office.
“We sincerely hope that Brother Armin will be as good in reforming the DepEd as he was in opposing the anti-student and anti-youth Arroyo Regime. And it will be a good start for him if he strictly enforces the ‘no mandatory fees’ policy and punish erring school administrators” said the group’s vice-chairperson.
Finally, the youth group also challenged the incoming Aquino Administration to make an emergency allocation of funds for the education sector, especially public high schools, in response to what has been termed as an ‘education crisis’.
“By giving enough funds to provide enough decent classrooms, proper textbooks and other equipment, and well-paid teachers, the justification of some schools to collect mandatory fees will be eliminated” said Dulce. ###