Free tuition remains a deceptive, palliative reform

The initial victory of the youth with the passage into law of Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education August of last year is continued to be spoiled by the still deceptive Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for it will only aggravate the already inadequate and substandard quality of education of the youth.

Just recently, Patricia Licuanan, chairperson of the Commission on Higher Education (ChEd), said that starting school year 2018–2019, tuition and other school fees of students in state universities and colleges (SUCs), as well as technical-vocational institutes (TVIs) would already be shouldered by the government.

Licuanan later reverted that the IRR still does not guarantee that anyone could now be automatically admitted by any SUC. Also, it is the administration of SUCs who has the mandate on to whom the subsidy will be given with the repressive retention policy.

The Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act states that students with bachelor’s degree or comparable undergraduate degree from any higher education institution, and those who fail the SUC’s admission and retention policy cannot avail themselves of the free tuition.

It is clear that the state is not serious in resolving the most basic problem confronting the youth. The law is only confusing the youth and giving false hopes in a mere palliative reform that does not constitute a fundamental change in the dominating policies on the current education system.

In fact, these palliative reforms in the tertiary level are machineries for cheap and docile labor, especially under the K-12 program. With a laser point focus in the technical-vocational track, the state is equipping the country to senf millions of Filipinos to other countries.

Neoliberal policies continue to be an encumbrance to the youth. Students suffer burdensome fees, annual fee increases, high costs of books and even high costs of the entire framework of student life. In addition, the futile financial assistance of the government only renders sure profits for private school owners.

True enough, the state rampantly deprives the rights of the youth for quality and accessible education. Duterte has not done anything against the incessant tuition hikes. It is crystal clear that the bridges between the imperialist United States and the Philippines is wide open. Along with Licuanan, Duterte tightly embraces the neoliberal policies imposed by the US.

The youth will remain keen for as long as the education system continues to be tormented by neoliberal policies. The College Editors Guild of the Philippines, as an alliance of tertiary level publications, joins the Filipino youth not only in their fight for a nationalist, scientific and mass-oriented education but also in the fight to resist and overthrow the fascist US-Duterte regime.

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