Stop treating education as business, youth group urges CHED

As the Commission on Higher Education reopens public consultations on the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 10931 or the “Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act,” youth and student groups led by Anakbayan trooped to the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City this morning to voice their concerns over the “looming shadows of private profit” plastered all over the law’s draft IRR.

(Click here to read the new draft IRR.)

Progressive youth groups picketed in front of the PICC today to highlight how the new IRR includes chunks of implementing guidelines aimed at “ensuring the profit of private educational institutions,” and at the same time “not having any tangible mechanism to stop the incessant fee increases in said private schools.”

“The explanatory note of the new IRR admits that the document is a result of various compromises between the public and private stakeholders. An overview of the draft IRR, however, shows that the document does not only contain harmless compromises, but rather tricky provisions that guarantee profit for institutions that have treated education as a big money-generating business for far too long,” said Vencer Crisostomo, national chairperson of Anakbayan.

Some of the prominent provisions in the new IRR include the provision of preferential guarantees for private higher education institutions for the tertiary education subsidy and the student loan program instituted in RA 10931; the listing of 16 “other school fees” including admission, athletic, computer, cultural, and development fees; and the overarching treatment of free higher education not as a fundamental policy shift but as a grant.

“For so long, the youth and student movement has campaigned hard to fight against the commercialization of education. This campaign includes the call for the scrapping of tuition and other school fees. Under RA 10931’s draft IRR, however, not only will the government institutionalize other school fees that students long to be abolished, but it also contains mechanisms to guarantee profit for owners of big private HEIs,” Crisostomo said.

“We are wary about the frame of thinking the drafters of this IRR used. Guaranteed private profit looms large all over the 30-page document. It is now becoming more and more apparent that the IRR of RA 10931 is just a scheme, a masterful tactic of the Duterte administration to take back the promise of free education and hamper the just and proper implementation of free education at all levels. The draft IRR, for the youth, is a huge deceitful step backward – a traitorous move even – on the part of the Duterte administration,” Crisostomo stressed.

“For decades, the youth and student movement has called on the government to protect our fundamental right to education by ensuring that it is not treated as just another business venture. The introduction and passage of RA 10931 may be considered a sort of victory in this regard, but with its new draft IRR, we now could see through the layers of deceit. We call on the Filipino youth to not only continue, but also level up the fight for free education, for the fight is far from over,” Crisostomo ended.###


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