Sunday, September 5, 2010

Youth solon scores P-Noy's budget cuts to Higher Education

(The hand of U.P. Diliman's "Oblation" is stretched out as if
asking for more funds for education. In an era of dwindling
State subsidies and rampant corruption by academic
bureaucrats embedded in State Universities and Colleges,
it is their constituents who end up getting squeezed the most.
Photo by: Chanda Shahani)

 Kabataan Partylist Representative Raymond Palatino today scored President Noynoy Aquino’s move to reduce subsidies for state college and universities (SCU) in his proposed 2011 budget, stating that his proposition was an “abandonment of government’s responsibility to provide the Filipino youth with quality and affordable education.”

Based on the proposed 2011 budget, the PNoy administration allocated P 23.4 billion to the country’s 112 SCUs, 1.7 percent lower than this year’s budget.

“Aquino and his budget team should refrain from issuing statements that education is a major priority in the current administration when in fact, he is slowly abandoning the youth. State abandonment of higher education is a trademark of Arroyo’s administration. If the Aquino administration really intends to correct the mistakes of the past, then it should seriously review and overhaul the longstanding policy of reducing subsidy to public tertiary education,” the youth solon said.

In his budget message, Aquino said reducing the subsidy to SUCs will “push them toward becoming self-sufficient and financially independent, given their ability to raise their income and to utilize it for their programs and projects.”

Palatino said an imposed policy of “self-sufficiency and financial independence” in SCUs through tie-ups with private corporations and tuition and other fee increases places the burden of financing tertiary education to the Filipino students themselves, many of whom will be unable to afford it.”

“Allowing SCUs to generate their income and enter into partnerships with the private sector would only mean higher tuition, and consequently, higher drop-out rates and decreased access to tertiary education. This diminishes the public character of SCUs, which are supposed to provide quality and accessible education to those who cannot afford it,” he said.

P1.1B or 28.16% was cut from the maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) from SCUs.
Seven SCUs’ MOOE were slashed by more than 50% namely:
  • Southern Philippines Agri-Business & Marine and Aquatic School (-66.27%)
  • Southern Leyte State University (-64.03%
  • Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (-57.96%)
  • Partido State University (-56.83%)
  • Nueva Vizcaya State University (-53.65%)
  • University of the Philippines (-51.85%)
  • Aurora State College of Technology (-51.84%).
Among the SCUs with the worst budget cuts by percentage are:
  • Philippine Normal University (-23.59%)
  • Aurora State College of Technology (-22.21%)
  • Cerilles State College (-21.95%)
  • University of the Philippines (-20.11%)
  • University of Southeastern Philippines (-20.03%)
While the SCUs with the worst budget cuts by nominal value are:
  • University of the Philippines (-P1.39 billion)
  • Philippine Normal University (-P91.35 million)
  • Bicol University (-P88.81 million)
  • University of Southeastern Philippines (-P44.39 million)
  • Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (-P31.65 million).
Palatino said the reduced subsidy to tertiary education comes at a time when Filipino youth are actually flocking to SCUs because of the increasing cost of studying in private universities and colleges. Based on the latest available data from CHED, 35 percent of tertiary students were studying in SCUs in 2008 as compared to 21 percent in 1994 and 10 percent in 1980.

“Such budget cuts will only urge SCUs to follow the footsteps of the 300% increase in UP. With continuous slash in budgets, we fear that tuition and other fees increase will be rampant in the years to come. Sooner or later, the 112 SCUs will be semi-privatized.”

Palatino further stated that instead of abandoning its responsibility one by one to the people, the Aquino should rechannel debt servicing funds to education. The youth solon earlier filed House Bill 1962 which repeals automatic debt servicing while institutionalizing the appropriation of six percent of the country’s gross domestic product to the public education sector.

“We must implement, at the minimum, the six (6) percent prescription by the United Nations in order to address the tragic condition of our education sector. And when we say education, we are talking about all levels of learning. In implementing this automatic appropriation for education, we are securing not only the future of our youth, but the future of our dear nation,” said Palatino.

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