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FOLLOWING the Senate’s allotment of at least P8.3 billion to provide free tuition for all state university and college students, the Duterte administration, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and administrators of state universities and colleges (SUCs) must act swiftly to implement this.
The move to provide free tuition for SUCs is long overdue. Students, parents, teachers, and school administrators have been protesting during the past decade against the incessant tuition and other fee hikes, the commercialization of education, budget cuts, and privatization of public higher education and the country’s education system in general. The situation worsened to the point of students committing suicide because of failure to pay tuition.
The government should not waste time and make sure that the move takes effect this January, in time for enrollment season for some schools affected by the calendar shift and exam season for most.
The President and CHED should immediately order all schools to stop collecting fees from all students. Even pending such an order, however, SUCs, through their board of administrators can and must stop tuition collection.
Policies in SUCs meant to collect ever increasing tuition fees should immediately be lifted or removed. Among these: “socialized” or bracketed tuition collection scams, “other school fees” and other collection systems intended for profit. These policies, if continued, will undermine the free tuition policy. SUCs should also be expanded to cover most if not all tertiary students.
Adverse policies implemented during the past decades have led to skyrocketing tuition rates in both public and private schools. These have worsened the commercialized character of education in the country which condemned the youth to exploitation and oppression.
Students, parents and school administrators must unite and take action to make free tuition in SUCs a reality.