Youths gear for nationwide class boycott

Last updated 04:02am (Mla time) 02/18/2007

MILITANT student and youth organizations nationwide are gearing for a boycott of classes in Metro Manila and key cities across the country on Feb. 22 to protest the new round of tuition and other school fee increases.

"Tuition and other fee increases in these times of economic hardship and poverty are clearly uncalled for. These only make college education more elusive to young Filipinos," Kabataan Party-list president Raymond Palatino said in a statement.

Aside from the Kabataan Party-list, several chapters of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines and the National Union of Students of the Philippines in major private schools in Metro Manila and other cities nationwide are also set to join the protest action.

According to Palatino, his group and the NUSP—together with student representatives from De La Salle University, Araneta University, University of the East, Mapua Institute of Technology, Philippine School for Business and Arts, Lyceum of the Philippines, Centro Escolar University and University of Santo Tomas—already filed a consolidated complaint at the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) last Feb. 15 against their school administrations over violations in the guidelines for tuition and other fee increases.

He reiterated the students' call for a full refund of illegally collected tuition and other fee increases for the current school year.

"Private schools and CHEd should first settle the issues over the illegal implementation of tuition and other fee hikes this school year... before approving proposals for another round of school fee increases," Palatino said.

He said the school year was about to end but private schools which increased tuition and other fees have not yet started giving refund to the students.

"If these school administrators will get away with the illegal tuition hikes they implemented this school year, it's likely that they will implement even bigger increases for the upcoming semester without student consultation," he warned.

"While CHEd issued an en banc resolution last May, it only stipulated a refund for tuition hikes which exceeded the inflation rate," Palatino added.

He argued that tuition and other fee increases imposed this school year are illegal since a CHEd memorandum, which became the basis for these increases, violated Republic Act No. 6728, Section 10, which provides that any proposal for school fee increase should undergo student consultation.

In the same statement, NUSP secretary general Alvin Peters and CEGP president Jose Cosido called on CHEd and lawmakers to investigate dubious fees which are being collected by various private schools in the country.

"These fees are not only superfluous, these are downright ridiculous. Private schools are imposing exorbitant fees to jack up their profits," Peters said.

As an example, he said the Philippine Maritime Institute is charging its students with a safety on land and seas fee that is worth P5,000 to P6,000 while UE in Manila is charging cultural fee that is worth P162 and Internet fee of P976.

"The Asian School of Arts and Sciences is collecting P250 for athletic fee even if the school doesn't have a varsity team," Peters revealed.

The group claimed that more dubious fees are being charged by private schools like energy fee, development fee, accreditation fee, centennial fee or foundation fee and aircondition fee. Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon

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