Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Southern Philippines students protest education budget cut

CCSPC students demonstrated to condemn reduced budget for education

Cotabato City- Students of the Cotabato City State Polytechnic College (CCSPC) walked out from their classes to participate in the nationally-coordinated students’ mass walkout during the National Youth Week.

Cotabato City State Polytechnic College (CCSPC) is the lone state college in Cotabato City and has implemented increases in tuition and miscellaneous fees. The result is that the number of students has dropped to some 3000 this year, from 8000 of the previous year.

The national government proposed P1.053 T budget for year 2006. Education sector will receive 119 B which will divided among thousands of public schools. Only P 16.67 M will go to state universities and colleges (SUC) while the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) and the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP) will get P612.68 M. The biggest slice of the budget will go to debt servicing amounting to P381.7 B.

This unbalanced budget shows rebuff of the Arroyo Administration to its state obligation which is to provide free education to Filipino people. GMA is not sincere to its promise to give the highest budget to education during its first terms while burden of poor students continues. According to UNICEF, 6% of the Gross Domestic Product should go to Education, but in the Philippines it is only 3%.

UNESCO statistical data show that some 4 M Filipinos have dropped out of school as a result of school fee increases. Wallace reports that only 7% of those who enter the elementary grades graduate from college.

The students, led by a national alliance organization calling for the ouster of GMA or YOUTH Demanding for Arroyo’s Removal (YOUTH DARE), condemned the low quality of education being given to students as shown by lack of school facilities, teachers, textbooks. On the other hand, there have been huge increaes in tuition and miscellaneous fees in public schools as a result of budget cuts.

The group also called for the ouster of Arroyo as she continues to implement anti-people policies such of the 12% expanded value added tax which greatly contributes to the suffering of the Filipino people and the worsening situation of the Philippine Educational System.

“We believe in quality and accessible education which should be granted to the Filipino youth,” said Youth DARE spokesperson Bai Ali Indayla.