Costly Education=Literacy loss
by Lualhati Madlangawa Guererro
Today marks the opening of classes.
After a month long vacation and of enrollment, children are starting to wear again their school uniforms and taking again their responsibilities, as students, and of course, experiencing different kinds of repressive policies, ranging from direct contact to indirect ones-especially in terms of finances in midst of the crisis.
Proven by the current events involving the Education sector, parents, and the students themselves, Education nowadays is reduced to a commodity due to the recent policies detrimental to the growth of literacy rate in the Philippines as well as the policies enticing every Pilipino to do manual labour, to be in the poorhouse than to finish (with a diploma plus a degree) with full colours. People somehow expected much about this catastrophe as primary and secondary schools are expecting more and more students crowding in a cell fit for 40 persons while in Colleges are expecting people paying a bigger fee especially those who are returning.
However, there are some who kept on maintaining the policies of the rotten social order in regards to Education. For the sake of "Cheap Labour Policy" created upon to cater Foreign capitalists and to maintain the conditions of a dependent semi-feudal, semi-colonial society, created a series of so-called reforms in order to "uplift" the quality of Philippine Education that in fat, steering backwards.
The Education budget remained too little to face the biggest expense the administration ought to take upon. The Brigada Eskwela may had been "successful" as a propaganda montage, but the reality showed that the government issued a "Laissez Faire" policy issuing private entities to step-by-step controlling public education, especially in State Universities and Colleges like U.P. during the Arroyo administration. The Government even still insisted another level both Elementary and High School, plus a "Univeral Kindergarten" in order for the young to adapt the present policies issued by the order.
As expected, these policies meant expenses for parents. They may be good to hear at first, especially about having a mandatory Kindergarten and additional year level for both Elementary and High School, but for the sake of cheap labor seemed to be too stupid to implement upon it-especially imposing "Work Education" (a variant of Technology and Livelihood Education, or earlier, Technology and Home Economics) and to vent an alibi that "they wanted easy employment instead of having a College degree". For sure parents wanted to have a child earning a degree rather than working as a wielder isn't it?
And in regards to colleges, the never ending saga of budget cuts and tuition and other fee increases continue to prey upon to students, especially to the lower middle and lower class backgrounds, creating much discontent from the majority. In the University of the Philippines, the Socialized Tuition Fee Assistance Program remained an object of criticism amongst students same as the Cafeteria-like Revitalized General Education Program. These both programs cater much to foreign and elitist interest and worse? Justifying the increase in fees in an institution the Government ought to take as a responsibility to educate the youth through having a bigger chunk of budget in it.
Once, according to IBON, that contrary to 58 Centavos going to Debt Servicing and 7 Centavos to the Military, only 1.6 Centavos goes to all 112 SUCs and one proposed higher budget is equivalent to only 2.2 Centavos. If that's the case then what kind of Government the people have as of these days having a small budget in Education despite paying taxes promising that these be allocated to the hope of the nation? Then wanting additional year level in Elementary and in High School plus a universal Kindergarten to all children? Again, isn't it foolish to do so?
Last time, workers had dismayed after a short increase in their wages, followed by increase in commodities as well as fares in Jeeps and in Buses, plus the M.R.T. and L.R.T. then this one?
Again, in U.P. There are certain changes in the Socialized Tuition Fee Assistance Program; that The new changes have resulted in a 50 to 65 percent tuition increase. From charging P600 to P1,000 per unit, U.P. now charges P1,000 to P1,500 per unit according to Vencer Crisostomo. Will the ordinary student mostly coming from the lower class afford to study in a "National University" catered by the Government?
According to Bulatlat:
"In the S.T.F.A.P., students are categorized into five “brackets,” widely understood to be a ranking based on their reported household income. All students are assumed to be part of the “default bracket,” and submit themselves to a lengthy application process to qualify for other brackets with cheaper tuition rates. In the Diliman, Manila, and L.B. campuses, the brackets are P1,500, P1,000, P600, P300, and P0, with P1,000 being the “default.” In Baguio, Pampanga, Visayas, and Mindanao, the “default bracket” is pegged at P600."
But, according to Crisostomo:
“Starting this semester however, the default brackets have been changed to P1,500 and P1,000 per unit, respectively. This, in effect, is a virtual tuition fee increase from P1,000 and P600 per unit,”
The program affected most of the students who wanted to study in U.P., that a full 25 percent of all the U.P.C.A.T. passers this year chose not to enroll while some who did enroll, backed out after discovering how much the tuition- that is, the result of the program justifying the Tuition Fee Increase, after all Crisostomo said:
“Instead of providing access to poor students, the STAFP has become an instrument for tuition hikes,”
The Kabataan partylist even dismayed that 1,011 of the 3,826 U.P.C.A.T. passers this year did not confirm their slots in the university. Proven that a total of 303 who confirmed did not enroll. Meanwhile some of the 1,011 passers who chose not to enroll at U.P. received scholarships from other universities: Forty-one were granted scholarships at the Ateneo de Manila University, nine at De La Salle University, and one at the University of Sto. Tomas. These results again are the effects of the Program! Isn't it a foolish act to have few students enrolled despite more promising ones passed on that exam? How come U.P. got that very few pecentage of students while gaining A.D.M.U., U.S.T., D.L.S.U., and other "Class A" Universities?
Again, these are the products of policies detrimental to the increase in literacy rate of the Nation. Having a Costly Education results to losses especially in having educated individuals whilst the rest are nothing; one group even said that "Kung walang Knowlege, walang Epal" (Without Knowledge, there's no person to butt in), or even justifying S.T.F.A.P. as 'education being a right of the poor thru the charity of the rich' or any other sentiment, including justifying budget cuts and instead focusing on mere scholarships, that in fact dole-outs for the chosen few whilst the rest, despite passed in U.P. failed to reach the quota.
If Capitalist-inclined policies made by the profiteers continue to prevail, perhaps we're seeing parents paying too much for the sake of 5 year old kids being pressed for Kindergarten while some be end up being pressed to work than to pursue their goals-as future professionals of the Nation. As evidenced by the K+12 program to the S.T.F.A.P of U.P., as well as the usual Tuition and Other Fee Increases from both State and Private Colleges and Universities. Scholarships are not enough to support millions of students, nor the current Education budget supported the millions of needs, priorities for the Education sector.
The State needs a Patriotic, Scientific and People based Education before Losses in Literacy rates increases. If not, more and more protests will come in every major city, venting a series of grievances and rages in order for the System to stop their stupidity guised as reform and stability measure.