PHILIPPINES:Youth, students storm CHED in protest of tuition hikes

Friday 7 February 2014

Date: 5 February 2014

Type: News

Keywords: Education, student protests, privatization

Youth and students from different private and state universities and colleges stormed the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to protest impending tuition and other fee increases that will welcome students next academic year 2014-2015.

Along with the protest action in front of CHED’s office in Diliman, student leaders met with CHED officials for a dialogue to address their grievances and complaints regarding fee increases and issues concerning democratic rights within campuses.

February will be the last month to fulfill the requirements of CHED for those schools who intend to increase their tuition and other fees for the upcoming academic year.

But the students were not happy with the outcome of the dialogue, stating they are just repeating all over again what was been discussed before and no concrete actions were set to address the annual increases.

“We went here but they (the CHED) didn’t listen to us. They are still looking for cases before they will act against these increases. This means that are no other way but to rely on our own strength to fight against these increases,” said Sarah Jane Elago, national president of the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), in her address to the youth and students right after the said dialogue.

According to Elago, CHED cannot do anything to stop these increases. “All it can do is to monitor. But the CHED lacks the power to give sanctions to schools that have violations against unjust increases,” she said.

With regard to student democratic rights, CHED mentioned that they do check the schools’ student handbook and remove provisions that are not consistent with the Bill of Rights of the Philippine Constitution, according to Mark Lino Abila, national secretary general of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP).

“But that is not what’s happening on the ground. Many schools have student handbooks that are too repressive and against student democratic rights. They are not even serious in addressing campus press freedom violations,” said Abila. Youth and students said they are set to stage more protests to stop these increases and will make the CHED and the Aquino administration accountable.

“It would be an understatement to say that CHED and the Aquino government have been consistently against the rights and welfare of the Filipino students. Incessant tuition and school fees increases, as well as hikes in commodity goods and services, make it hard for students to go to school and finish their studies,” said Elago.###

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