Unity Statement for the Youth and People’s Right to Quality and Accessible Education
We, the undersigned, united and resolved in asserting the youth and people’s right to quality and accessible education, strongly urge President Benigno Aquino III to address without delay the worsening education crisis.
In the nine (9) years of former President Arroyo’s term, the long-existing education crisis underwent gross intensification: The national average tuition rate in college increased by 94.7%, from P257.41 per unit in 2001 to P501.22 per unit in 2010; The budget allocation to education is scant, only P6.85 per student per day in S.Y 2009-2010; State Universities and Colleges received yearly budget cuts and are currently forced to enact commercializing schemes; Students from private schools are at the behest of deregulated tuition and miscellaneous fee increases; Basic education is hounded by shortages in classrooms (57, 930), seats (3.48 million), textbooks (34.7 million) and teachers (49, 699); the insecurity of teacher’s welfare is compounded by huge deductions in benefits and low salary.
These are the salient manifestations of the education crisis that we, the youth and members of other sectors, strongly urge President Aquino to resolve.
We, the youth and members of other sectors, engage President Aquino, who ran and won under the banner of hope and change, to reverse the nine (9) years of education crisis aggrandized by Arroyo government. We call President Aquino to:
1. Increase state spending on education to six (6) percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Since 2001, only an average of 2.7% of the GDP is allotted to education, way below the 6% prescription of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
· In the immediate time, President Aquino should release an emergency fund to temporarily alleviate the education crisis. The shortages in teachers, textbooks, seats, classrooms, and other facilities must be addressed now even prior to budget deliberations in Congress.
2. Strictly regulate Tuition and Other Fee Increase (TOFI). Through the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Department of Education (DepEd), President Aquino should assert the regulatory powers of the said agencies, unfazed by private-school owners who regularly increase tuition and other fees to the detriment of students and parents.
3. Ensure the establishment and autonomy of student councils and campus publications nationwide.
· Corollary to this, President Aquino should encourage the expansion of student participation in the decision-making processes in schools nationwide. As the prime stakeholder in schools, students must have representation in policy-making bodies and institutions,
4. Ensure the welfare of the basic sectors in schools including, but not limited to, the teachers, staff, employees, community settlers, and so on.
5. Review existing policies on education.
· Repeal Education Act of 1982 (EA of 1982). For so long, the EA of 1982 has served as the legal basis for private school owners to unrelentingly increase tuition and other fees.
· Repeal Campus Journalism Act of 1991 (CJA of 1991). The flawed CJA of 1991 has been used by school administrators to suppress freedom of expression among campus publications. The non-mandatory collection of publication fee, for instance, as stipulated in the CJA of 1991, has resulted to the closing down of campus publications nationwide. It has also been used to suppress campus publications which are critical of existing school policies.
· Revamp State-spending on education which has gradually reduced, causing State Universities and Colleges to lack in budget.
We, the youth and members of other sectors, reiterate our united resolve in asserting our right to quality and accessible education. We believe that through conscientious leadership and a strong political will, President Aquino can effectuate these urgent education reforms.
Rise Up for education, SIGN UP!
(We aim to gather one million signatures to be submitted to the House of Representatives and the President's Office).
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