Manifesto of Unity Against Tuition and Other School Fees Increase!

We, students, youth leaders, and campus journalists from public and private schools all over the country, who believe that we must continuously assert for our right to quality and accessible education stand strong against the commercialization of education. The prevalence of tuition and other school fees, together with their exorbitant yet unnecessary increase regularly, further ignites our unity.

For so long, we have been victims of various schemes of tuition and other fees increase (TOFI). Aside from high tuition, school administrations now charge a multitude of redundant, exorbitant, and irrelevant bills concealed under the broadness of ‘miscellaneous fees.’ In fact, it now accounts for bulk of the total cost of matriculation. Private schools charge Php 1 000 to as much as Php 25 000 for miscellaneous fees. State universities and colleges (SUCs) such as the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) and the University of the Philippines (UP) charge miscellaneous fees that even exceed their tuition rates per unit respectively.

For so long, we have been victims of the connivance between the Aquino government and the private sector. We saw how tuition fee increases became regular practices legitimized by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). We saw how CHED, a government agency that supposedly guarantees equal access of higher learning across economic stratifications, surrendered their power to regulate educational institutions to businessmen. We saw how CHED disintegrated into a mere part of the protocol, a rubber stamp that approves questionable and empty justifications of proposals on school fee increases.

We see no point in denying that skyrocketing costs of education is nothing but another year of burden, an additional layer of injustice to students and parents. Its consequences are clear; its long- term effects detrimental. It makes education completely out of reach of millions of Filipino families who are members of marginalized agricultural, fishing, and labor sectors. It forces parents to set aside education for more urgent matters such as putting food on tables. It coerces the youth to kill their dreams. Kristel Tejada and Rosanna Safuego were both promising students who became casualties to the unnecessary shame and pressure brought by inability to pay for their education- a service that must actually be provided by the government for free.

Year after year, the student movement campaigned against TOFI and gained the support of the public. Nonetheless, despite the outrage and the clamor, school administrations are not just let on loose but are, in fact, even supported and backed by the Aquino government.

Aquino’s extant policy of education – codified in the Education Act of 1982 and further exacerbated by the CHED Memorandum 3 Series of 2012 – secured the ability of school owners to charge miscellaneous fees. To add, CHED’s history is blundered by irregularities in policy making, as well as negligence in regulation and enforcement. Instead of supporting the call to stop tuition hikes and holding schools violating tuition fee increase guidelines accountable, CHED and President Aquino have further perpetuated this profiteering by not implementing a genuine, comprehensive, and pro- student TOFI moratorium.

It is no surprise, therefore, that CHED and the Aquino government has never been successful in decreasing cases of ballooning fee hikes, dropouts, and out of school youth.

With our democratic rights to education under attack, we recognize the need to strengthen our calls and fortify our ranks to act collectively as we seek justice for all victims of commercialized and repressive education.

Stop Tuition and Other Fees Increase!
Junk OSFs, Oppose Tuition Deregulation!
Junk Education Act of 1982!
Fight for Nationalist, Scientific and Mass-Oriented Education!

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