Makabayan bloc seeks moratorium on tuition increases, other school fees

Published April 23, 2021, 2:43 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Members of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives are seeking a moratorium on the increases of tuition and other fees to alleviate the learning crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A young student of Lanton Elementary School in General Santos City, South Cotabato tutors her peers while following health protocols (Lanton Elementary School/Facebook)

Led by Kabataan Party-list Representative Sarah Jane Elago, progressive lawmakers filed separate House resolutions “strongly” urging the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to implement academic easing and “No Fail” policy in all educational institutions in light of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing economic crisis.

They sought the suspension of increases, such as tuition, miscellaneous, and other school fees on all public and private educational institutions.

Stopping the increase of tuition and other school fee is long overdue, they said, adding that any increase will “worsen the suffering of families who deal with the already high prices of goods and services, meager salaries, and insufficient pandemic subsidies.”

‘’Apart from our call to swiftly release sufficient cash aid to families amid the pandemic, a tuition moratorium is necessary to give the people, especially the parents and students, a much-needed respite as they strive to meet their day-to-day needs while ensuring learning continuity,’’ the group added.

The two agencies, the lawmakers said, should also promote measures that provide leniency and remove unreasonable burden from students and teachers in the distance learning set-up, such as, but not limited to, the relaxing of academic requirements, extension of deadlines for the submission of requirements, and suspension of retention requirements.

“With the lack of a clear plan geared towards the gradual safe resumption of face-to-face classes in school campuses, students and teachers have not been conducting classes in school campuses for more than a year and have had to deal with the struggles posed by distance learning setup,” the youth party-list said.

‘’A year has passed in this remote learning set-up, yet the same woes continue to beset the education sector, such as poor internet connection and lack of gadgets, learning materials, and other resources. Overworked teachers have borne the burden of filling in the gaps in the defective implementation of distance learning in the country,” it added.

The party-list further said: “Our teachers and students cannot be forced to function normally when they are grieving, recovering from physical or mental illness, and/or otherwise incapacitated by the appalling national situation, especially now that the latest COVID-19 surge that reached record-breaking daily positive cases has left the country in an even worse situation a year into the pandemic.”

Besides Elago, other proponents to the call were ACT Teachers’ Party-list Rep. France Castro, Bayan Muna Part-list Reps. Carlos Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite and Eufemia Cullamat, and Gabriela Women’s Party-list Arlene Brosas.