NO to education budget cuts, NO to commercialization of education

Please sign this petition if you want to oppose commercialization of our schools and keep our right to education.
All the underlying issues are discussed below.

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This is a petition to our Philippine President Ninoy Aquino. 
From concerned Filipino citizens- students and parents alike, speaking in behalf of all the universities in the country.

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NO to education budget cuts, NO to commercialization of education


 

During most of  GMA’s term, 154 out of 264 State Universities and Collegess (SUCs)(1), including  the University of the Philippines(2) were converted from a state to a national university.

Though this may seem like a harmless name change,  this move, a.k.a.“rationalization” is nothing but detrimental to the state of our education.

As a national university,  the school ceases to be a responsibility of the state and is thus tasked to earn money for its keep - making it a money making business(3) rather than an institution in the service of its people.

You may wonder, how such a change could have been allowed by its academic administrators, the guardians of our learning.

In this, you need to follow the money.  For each school converted to a national university, you have to ask-
"Were those who voted in its favor given special positions as profit recipients of this anomaly?"


"Could a busines-oriented school be so bad?"
,  you may ask
.

Emerlinda Roman, then incumbent UP President reasons that it is a good discipline  for universities to be trained in the realities of business and economics.

Though this may be so,  this is the price we have to pay:

1. NO MONEY,  NO STUDY 
Education, which used to be the right of every deserving child is now a privilege of the financially capable few.

In UP, the 300% tuition fee increase(4) resulted in the non-admission of 1/3 of its students(5), who, even though passed the academe’s stringent examination, failed the business entity’s financial requirement.

  • Take the case of a freshman Chemistry student from a minority group in Cotabato.(6)
    His father, has set aside money from their meagre income  to ensure that his bright son gets a life different from his own.  They were welcomed by a 300% tuition fee increase, which they had to produce in a few days.  Unable to come up with the amount, the son dropped out, downtrodden, dreams of a better life gone.

    A bright mind left to stagnate.  A parent’s strife, rendered futile.

The open slot that he leaves is now taken up by a foreign student(7) who finds the tuition fee, a meager amount compared to what they have to pay in their country(8).

Our gift of education to the world? Or hope denied to our countrymen.

2. FACULTY THINKS MONEY, NOT CURRICULUM
The faculty, now tasked to make ends meet- has business as its primary function rather than how to continuously improve the curriculum.

Faculty meetings are about budgets and ideas on fundraisers while the school syllabus stays stagnant.

In fact, in this year's QS World University Rankings, UP, this year's top local university, ranked 332nd from 314th in 2010 as a direct effect of the budget cuts. (9)

3. SOCIALLY IMBALANCED STUDY
Though it is important to propagate courses that support our business infrastructure as Business Administration, Engineering, Law-  courses needed in the positive well balanced development of our country and people are overlooked- as Education,  Fine Arts, Community Development.

The UP School of Education is downsized even as there is a gnawing need for more teachers.  The resulting downsizing of UPIS, a laboratory school that helps UP Ed students, our future teachers in designing a better syllabus, is a direct casualty of this shift in priorities.

Projecting into the future, we will become a consumerist nation, devoid of  social and cultural values that give life its true rich meaning.

4. SCHOOL FOR SALE (10)
Take a tour of UP and you will find that the independent community of old now gives way to advertising.

  • All the pebbles of the academic oval are engraved with names of donors.
  • The rooms are named after brands and companies who gave a sizeable donation.

Though I commend those who gave financial support to the school, I also believe that true giving is selfless and anonymous.

Time was when we named our edifices after heroes, people who made selfless contributions to higher learning.  
Now, we name them after the highest bidder.

This practice has gone to the extreme with the lease of Technohub.

What was misrepresented to be a science and technology incubator, is now a business and commercial center- rented at a discount of 177Million over 25 years, which is only 8% of fair market value(11) to the school’s preferred business partner.

And now, UPIS…
(click here to see Save UPIS video to get a feel of the UPIS heritage - though the video was done ages ago to raise funds from individuals, this is not the object of this petition)

  • the school, dilapidated as they reasoned, will be transferred to an even smaller, burnt remnant of a residence hall.  A token alm is given, hardly enough for its repairs.
  • The students, will be downsized as a result of the uprofitable, deprioritized and downsized Colege of Education
  • The sprawling grounds, used to be the site of youth sports activities will be replaced by a commercial mall.

All this, so that UP can add a meager P34Mill/year (12), a tiny drop to the P12Bill budget deficit that the government cannot provide.

Can the Philippine government REALLY not provide?

UP needs P18 Bill in 2011 to function but it only received P5.5Bill, a further decrease of P1.4 Bill  from the previous year.  (13)

With a total education budget of  2.8% of GDP (2008) (14) , the Philippine government, consistently allots less than half of the prescribed minimum of 6% set by UNESCO Delors Commission for developing countries.

The government,  they say is bankrupt and has no more money to give.  Is it really?

The problem really isn’t a lack of funds but rather a misappropriation of priorities.(19)

Education is our right.  A right, that it seems, we have to fight for.
And we can start by saying no the the UPIS conversion to a shopping mall.

Say NO to the sale of UPIS. Say NO to the ratonalization of  SUCs.

And give back the hope of education to our countrymen.

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SOURCES:

[1] In six years, the number of SUCs (State Universities and Colleges) was reduced by 154 (i.e., from 264 in 1998 to 111 in 2004).

[2] UP used to be called the state university, but with the passage of the Charter in 2008, UP has been designated as the national university, with the government’s explicit commitment to provide funding. There has been a lot of commotion in the approval for budget in 2011 because of the initial moves to cut back the budget of UP, particularly for maintenance and operating expenses. In the final budget, the so-called reductions have been restored.
Source: Interview with Pascual, http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/320270/to-make-up-great-again

[3]According to the government’s Long-Term Higher Education Development Plan (LTHDP) for 2001-2010, these are the prescribed targets for 2010:

  1. the reduction of the number of SUCs by 20 percent;
  2. the conversion of six SUCs to semi-corporations;
  3. the generation of income by 20 percent of SUCs through the sale of intellectual property rights and grants;
  4. the establishment of active income-generating projects in 50 percent of SUCs;
  5. the pegging of tuition rates similar to that of private schools in 70 percent of SUCs; and
  6. the collaboration with big businesses of 60 percent of SUCs.


Other programs on education such as the Higher Education Modernization Act (HEMA, 1997) and Philippine Agenda for Education Reforms (PAER) are consistent with the LTHDP.

HEMA authorizes the Boards of Regents of SUCs to fix tuition and other fee increases. SUCs are directed to enter into joint ventures with private corporations and to privatize services such as  health, food, maintenance, security and others.

Recommendations of the PAER, meanwhile, include the reduction of the MOOE; adoption of schemes of cost recovery and maximum utilization of assets; and the seeking of donor support locally, nationally and internationally, from the corporate sector, alumni, institutions and individuals.

These policies on education were formulated based on the recommendations of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Asian Development Bank. Even the proposed revisions to the UP Charter, as embodied in Senate Bill No. 2587, are fashioned after the LTHEDP, HEMA and PAER

[4] The university earns an average of P330 million a year prior to the tuition increase. In 2007, income from tuition rose by an average of eight percent, bringing the earnings to P355 million, according to DBM.
The bulk of the income from the tuition increase is in a trust fund as UP is saving funds to be able to develop as a full-blown research university, Roman explained. UP needs a total of P50 billion to attain such goals, she explained.

[5] In UP Diliman alone, more than a third of qualifiers in the UP College Admission Test have opted not to enrol in UP since 2007, according to data from the Office of the University Registrar. 
Source: http://www.philippinecollegian.org/making-ends-meet-roman%E2%80%99s-legacy-of-income-generation/

[6]http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/letterstotheeditor/view/20080620-143711/UP-closed-to-brightest-of-poor

 

[7] In a GMA News report in February 2011, the Bureau of Immigration noted that the number of foreigners studying at local schools had risen by 4 percent, numbering almost 20,000 students.

[8] A news report by Agence France Presse detailed that a four-year degree course at a Philippine school ran from $1,000 to $2,500 a year, an obvious bargain compared the $30,000 per year one would spend at an American university

 

[9]

5(Previously non-profit public institution shall now be turned into a profit-generating public agency. The "Higher Education Modernization Act of 1997" (RA 8292) permits the SUCs to "enter into joint ventures with business and industry for the profitable development and management of the college or institution, the proceeds from which are to be used for the development and strengthening of the college and the university..." This has been called the corporatization of SUCs.

[10] http://diliman-diary.blogspot.com/2010/05/ups-staff-regent-says-swiss-challenge.html

The UP administration in Diliman, Quezon City has allotted 163.5 hectare or 33 percent of the land of the campus for Science and Technology Parks (S&T Parks). The project covers 98.5 hectares in the north, from Arboretum to the Iglesia ni Cristo compound. Sixty-five hectares along the university’s CP Garcia Avenue has been allotted in the south.

However, the land area for the building of structures for commercial purposes is larger than that for S&T facilities. These include product manufacturing, hotel, shopping center, supermarkets, gym, swimming pool, theaters, financial institutions, specialty stores, leisure facilities, warehouse, entertainment center, 24-hour helipad, and condominium.

In a memorandum of agreement (MoA) between the UP administration and the Ayala Foundation, UP was relegated to facilitating access to the expertise and skills of university’s faculty and other personnel while allowing the latter to undertake profitable enterprises.

Moreover, the MoA stated, “Any intellectual property rights created by or vested as a result of outputs from joint research and development activities, if any, of the University and the Foundation under this agreement shall be jointly owned by them.”

 

[11] Meanwhile, ALI will develop the UPIS high school site along Katipunan Avenue in UP Diliman into a mixed-use commercial center “highlighting several academic support facilities,” according to ALI’s business plan.

The contract with ALI covers the relocation of UPIS High School to the Narra Residence Hall site and a guaranteed income of P8.5 billion on rent revenues over the 25 years, (i.e.; 34Mill PHP/year) and P220 million in donations for the relocation and construction of UPIS building and upgrade of UPIS facilities. 
Source: http://www.philippinecollegian.org/bor-oks-3-new-land-leases/

[12] For 2011, we asked for P18 billion for our deteriorated physical facilities. We also need money for more modern laboratories, to send our professors for graduate studies preferably in universities outside the country so that we will not hatch in-breeding. And all we got is less than P6 billion. So UP is always short in funds.
Source: Interview with Pascual, http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/320270/to-make-up-great-again

[13] Source: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.XPD.TOTL.GD.ZS/countries

[14]  http://www.livingincebuforums.com/ipb/topic/21933-aquino-stops-p10b-in-pork-from-gma/

Mr. Aquino has retained the huge annual pork barrel allocations of senators and congressmen despite the austerity and budget deficitreduction program he is pursuing, though he made these funds transparent in his proposed budget.
“We are reflecting these allocations in full for the sake of transparency,” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad told reporters.  “Members of the House will continue to have P70 million each, while senators will have P200 million each,” he said.
The President’s budget proposal includes a P24.8-billion lump sum for the congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). The appropriation is P14 billion more than the P10.8 billion PDAF in this year’s budget.
The P24.8 billion is apparently the full reflection of the senators’ and congressmen’s pork barrel allocations. This year, as in the past, the PDAF appears smaller because it reflects only the funds for “soft” projects.
Appropriations for “hard” projects like roads were hidden mostly in the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Source : http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=607762&publicationSubCategoryId=63

[15] http://www.gmanews.tv/story/199499/gloria-arroyo-will-be-given-pork-barrel-belmonte

[16] http://arabnews.com/world/article46095.ece

[17] Under a government proposal by the Philippines Department of Budget and Management, the FY11 military expenditure will soar by 81 per cent to PHP104.5 billion (USD2.3 billion).
Source :
http://www.dbm.gov.ph/NEP2011/general_intro2011.htm#nep_2005_table2-1

[18] It is not rational in terms of maximizing talent when the best and the brightest have to go on leave to work as baggers at supermarkets. It is not rational in relation to the astronomical sums involved when a Commission on Elections chair can tell the socioeconomic planning secretary, “Sec, may 200 ka dito” [“Secretary, there’s 200 for you here”] and the President and chief law enforcer merely look the other way. Just imagine how many students could have studied on that P200-million bonanza—and even that was loose change for the thieving maniacs who rule our country
Source: http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/columns/view/20080627-145004/Dropping-out-after-3-days-as-a-UP-freshman

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