Student leaders from different state universities and colleges (SUCs) come together to lobby for higher budget for SUCs in a meeting with the Department of Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad.
The SUC Budget Watch Alliance, Akbayan Youth and Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP), the largest student council formation in the country, maintained that the PNoy administration is still largely underspending when it comes to higher education.
“We call on this administration to heed the call of the youth and students to give greater premium to education and prioritization of education should never discriminate tertiary education”, Heart Diño, UP Diliman student council Chairperson and SCAP-NCR Chairperson said.
Quality, relevant and accessible public tertiary education is impossible without sufficient support from the government. “ If SUCs were forced to be self-sufficient, they will not achieve their inherent goal of providing education to those who are most in need, the underprivileged and poor families in our society”, Diño added.
The group also said that the crisis in education will remain a problem if the fundamental issue of budget is not being addressed.
“Inadequate facilities, few teaching personnel’s – these are some of the problems that SUCs are currently going through, resulting to tuition fee increases and disturbing creation of more income generating projects to sustain the school’s operation. With this current situation, our government should provide higher budget for SUCs”, quips Akbayan Youth’s Marian Bahalla.
Student leaders from each university argued the need of additional budget for their localities.
“Insufficient funding of UP negatively affects its capacity to fulfill its mandate as the national university. According to DBM, UP will receive a higher budget this year amounting to almost P10.8B, but still far from the P18.4B that UP system would need to properly manage its campuses nationwide.” Jason Alacapa, UP Manila student council Chairperson said.
“Also having a share on the UP system budget, the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) receives only about 60% of the hospital’s annual expenditure. Due to this, free services for patients earning below 7,500Php a month were almost scrapped”, Alacapa added.
AR Angcos, President of Philippine Normal University (PNU) argued that in PNU, classes are being merged since there is not enough budget to hire additional teaching personnel. There are no adequate facilities for ICT training to make future teachers technologically competitive.
“As the government has shown its commitment to progress in terms of education, it’s at the same time sending a wrong message by drastically lowering the budget of the country’s best source of quality teachers which is PNU”, Angcos continued.
The group also rationalized the need for additional budget of other SUCs especially those who are Centers for Excellence and Centers for Development like Mindanao State University and Central Luzon State University.
The group also forwarded sufficient funding support for the Pag-asa Elementary School, a new school being put up in Pag-asa island, one of the disputed Spratlys territories in the West Philippine Sea.
“Students are forced to go to Palawan mainland for them to attend school because Kalayaan town has no schools put up. Now that the local government is putting up its own elementary school, DBM should fully support the initiative”, quips Jana Cabuhat, SCAP-National Chairperson.
Successful Dialogue with DBM
The group concluded the meeting by asking the DBM Officials to allocate the appropriate budget increases for SUCs and to lay down a progressive reform agenda for the education sector that does not discriminate against tertiary education.
There was also a clarification that there is an increase in the budget of SUCs. This is due to the “roadmap” presented by the Commission on Higher Education.
Also, the group successfully got the commitment of the officials to implement the coordination for the SUC Budget process and for the creation of an Alternative Budget for SUCs
DBM Secretary Abad supposed to be participating in the dialogue, however due to the urgent meeting to finalize the 2013 budget, sent his apologies to the group. Present in the dialogue are Assistant Secretary Luz M. Cantor, Chief Budget and Management Specialist Dante De Chavez and Regional Director Ruby Esteban
This is a press release from the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP)
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