With the enrollment period having started in schools, many workers already feel the added burden in sustaining the education of their children, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) expressed as the government revealed tuition fee increases in 339 tertiary schools this schoolyear.
“This enrollment period, we workers are again worried of the future of our children and worn out of the extremes that we have gone through just to raise money for tuition, especially with our wages frozen for years,” KMU Chairperson Elmer “Bong” Labog said.
“How much more do we have to strive for when it comes to the education of the children? Multiple blows of price hikes and frozen wages are the double whammy that has marked our lives under the Arroyo administration,” Labog added.
KMU said wage levels in all regions have remained stuck since 2008 even as prices of basic commodities and services have soared several times.
“Increased tuition rates become most cruel and unjustified at this time of low wages and high prices of basic goods. That’s why a tuition hike moratorium is badly needed at this point,” Labog said.
The increased tuition rates in the 339 tertiary institutions could translate to as much as 800 pesos per unit additional cost. KMU said the average minimum wage of Filipino workers nationwide is actually not enough for food and basic needs for survival, leaving no room for educational expenses.
“This grim scenario pushes more Filipino youth to drop out of school and join the working sector, or worse, to join the ballooning ranks of unemployed,” said Labog.
Aquino urged to act
KMU urged president-apparent Noynoy Aquino to stand in the way of Arroyo’s planned tuition hikes in hundreds of schools.
“Noynoy should also do his promise of doubling to tripling the current government subsidy for education. We shall not wait long for the fulfillment of this.
“We also know that Noynoy has reaped support from the big business groups, some of which run educational institutions like milking cows. It is a challenge for him to reverse the profiteering schemes schools have done and have been allowed to under the Arroyo regime.
“And indeed, a general control of prices of basic goods and utilities, and the passage of a substantial nation-wide wage hike is what the next administration must accomplish soon in order for us to have a glimpse of a brighter future for our children,” Labog said.