Youth groups today belied DBM’s claims of a significant hike in SUC budget, calling the DBM PR “an attempt at data deception” and another “SONA PR stunt”.

 

“The DBM spins doctors cannot be believed, they have been lying during the past two years re SUC budget. Year after year they issue statements saying the SUC and education budgets have increased but once we take a closer look at the figures, we see budget cuts and grossly insufficient funding,” said Vencer Crisostomo, national chairperson of youth group Anakbayan and spokesperson of Kabataan Partylist.

 

He said the reality in SUCs reveal tuition, other fee hikes and various income-generating schemes.

 

“The Aquino administration, for the past two years, has been a tuition hike administration. Its policies of further commercialization of education have pushed students out of school and burdened poor parents. If the SUC budget is being increased annually, why are tuition and school fee rates on the rise?” he said.

 

This year, UP “rebracketed” most of its students, hiking tuition rates from P1,000/unit to P1,500/unit. PUP, meanwhile, has increased its miscellaneous fees by as much as P500. State schools from CAR have proposed a 300% hike in tuition. Many other SUCs have reported tuition and other fee hikes and have pointed to insufficient funding as culprit.

 

Crisostomo said the Aquino government is “desperately trying to cover-up crimes committed to education by again resorting to media spins and data deception.”

 

“If you look closely, the ‘hike’ in the budget is partly due to the implementation of a tranche of Salary Standardization Law, which is mandated by law and not a deliberate effort increase funding,” he said.

 

He said the DBM statement boasting that budget for capital outlay increased by 16x is “clearly misleading” because capital outlay for this year is zero for almost all schools and amounts to only about P200 million, which is due to congressional insertion, even.

 

The rest of the hikes he said are MPBF funds and previously allotted funds to CHEd, which have already been assailed as “pork barrel-type,” conditional and which will not directly go to SUCs.

 

“Worse, these funds are conditioned on commercialization and rationalization programs which aim to streamline SUCs and further limit access,” said Crisostomo.

 

Crisostomo said the current budget for SUCs remains grossly insufficient compared to what is needed to really have a”public tertiary education”.

 

Ang kailangan ay isang basong tubig, ang binigay ay isang patak,” he said.

 

Crisostomo said the government should allocate about P60 billion to tertiary education to be able to provide quality and accessible tertiary education to even 50% of all high school graduates.

 

“Ultimately the government has to uphold the basic principle that education, from basic to tertiary, is a right not a privilege,” he said. #

 

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