A network of teachers for transformative education said that the signing of the free tuition bill into law is a welcome major first step in realizing education as a right and should be ensured by government as a priority. Improving and expanding the public university system is however as important, said the group, as is developing a nationalist, scientific and mass-oriented curriculum.
The Educators Forum for Development (EFD) said that President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing of Republic Act 10931 or “Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act” is a positive and significant start towards achieving every Filipino’s right to education. The law grants full tuition subsidy for students in State and local universities and colleges as well as state-run technical-vocational schools.
The EFD underscored however that to genuinely ensure education for all and facilitate the schooling of millions of out-of-school youth, government is further challenged to improve the quality of education and increase the number and capacity of public higher education institutions. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) 2016 Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS), there are almost four million out-of-school children and youth, of which 87% are aged 16-24 or of tertiary education age. As of 2014, a total of 675 government higher education institutions including sattelite campuses nationwide were outnumbered by 2,374 private higher education institutions.
The group also said that improving and expanding the public university system is the best defense against the privatization of education, which commodifies a basic right and marginalizes no and low-income families. It can also help guard against the unnecessary flow into private profits of people’s money, which should otherwise be allocated precisely to strengthening the public university system. EFD said that strengthening the public university system means increasing teachers’ capacities, employing quality teachers’ materials, publications and teaching methods, and ensuring adequate budget for free tertiary education in SUCs.
EFD said that lastly, but most essential, is the development of a progressive, patriotic and pro-people curriculum. This is contrary to the K-12 framework that aims to build an army of cheap labor for the global market, and instead will harness the Filipino youth’s full potential to become the country’s nation builders. ###
The Educators Forum for Development is a network of teachers advocating transformative education.