By Mario Casayuran
Private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) were urged to defer tuition hikes at a time when families are struggling financially amid the health emergency that hit the country.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, said according to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) some HEIs have submitted tuition hike applications prior to the lockdown.
During a recent Senate panel hearing, it was revealed that the dip in enrollment among the country’s 3.5 million higher education students would further compel HEIs to hike tuition.
With the number of jobless Filipinos soaring to a record high of 7.3 million amid the pandemic, Gatchalian said raising tuition would burden struggling families and aggravate the number of dropouts.
Gatchalian noted that budget constraints are affecting beneficiaries of CHED programs. The CHED Merit Scholarship Program (CMSP) for example, which originally had 2,467 slots allotted for incoming college freshmen for Academic Year 2020 to 2021, will no longer accept new scholars.
“This is not the time to overburden our parents with high tuition lalo na ngayong panahong marami silang binabayaran. Hindi ngayon ang tamang panahon para dyan (This is not the right time to raise tuition when parents are saddled with so many expenses),” Gatchalian said in a video conference with student leaders.
He, however, acknowledged that private HEIs need available resources to sustain operations, including the payment of faculty and staff.
This adds urgency to the immediate passage of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Senate Bill No. 1564) or the Bayanihan Law 2, Gatchalian noted.
a one-time cash assistance to affected teaching and non-teaching personnel in private basic and tertiary education institutions, as well as part-time faculty in state universities and colleges. The proposed measure also mandates government financial institutions to have a loan program that will help education institutions implement blended learning. A condition for this loan is the non-implementation of tuition and other fees’ increase.
“Ang pagpapaliban sa pagtaas ng matrikula ay isang paraan upang matulungan natin ang mga pamilyang naapektuhan ang kabuhayan dahil sa pandemya. Kung maipapasa natin sa mga darating na araw ang panukalang Bayanihan to Recover As One Act, mabibigyan natin ng agarang tulong ang mga bumubuo sa sektor ng edukasyon (A deferment on the petition for matriculation hikes is one way of helping families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The education sector stands to benefit if the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act could be passed in the coming days),” Gatchalian said.
A special session of Congress during the sine die adjournment is reportedly needed to approve Bayanihan 2.0.