A MEMORANDUM FROM THE BOSSES OF THE GOVERNMENT
(A manifesto of UP Diliman students on the education budget)
The Iskolars ng Bayan firmly stand united in struggling for adequate funding for the University of the Philippines (UP) and all State Universities and Colleges (SUCs).
Why UP should be funded well
Article XIV, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution commits the State to providing accessible and quality education at all levels. To this end, RA 9500, or the University of the Philippines Charter of 2008, designates the University of the Philippines the national university.
The 2008 UP Charter mandates that UP perform “its unique and distinctive leadership in higher education and development” in several respects: as a leader in innovation and academic standards in the Philippines and beyond; as a training ground for public servants and specialists in various fields of expertise; and as a promoter and practitioner of democratic citizenship and governance.
Adequate funding is essential if UP is to realize its mission for national development. It ensures that UP’s faculty are able to attend graduate school abroad and benefit from global expertise. It provides researchers with state-of-the-art facilities and equipment to remain relevant forces not only within the international community, but also the nation-building project. Moreover, it also finances cultural, historical, and archeological studies that enrich and preserve our country’s heritage.
Adequate funding also helps protect the rights of Iskolars ng Bayan, whose basic services are in need of much needed improvements, including but not limited to: classrooms that are fully equipped and renovated, student housing that is comfortable and fully renovated, a student center that caters to socially aware and socially relevant organizations, and most importantly, a university security system that protects everyone on campus.
2013 UP budget proposal responsive to urgent needs of the Iskolar ng Bayan
President Benigno Aquino III, in his 2012 budget message, recognized that investing in education is the main strategy to combat poverty and create national competitiveness. We Iskolars ng Bayan have thus urged the government to realize this strategy by translating this priority into appropriate figures.
For 2013, the UP Administration proposed a budget of P18.4 billion. The proposed budget is broadly allocated as follows: Capital Outlay (CO), for constructing buildings and purchasing equipment, P7.86 billion, or 43%; Personal Services (PS), for the salaries and compensation of 14,000 UP employees, P6.33 billion, or 34%; and Maintenance and other Operating Expenses (MOOE) , P4.16 billion, or 23%.
P10.88 billion of the proposed budget will be allocated with additional requirements. P8 billion of this sum, or 74%, will go to UP constituent units (CUs); while P2.8 billion or 26%, will go to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), the teaching hospital of the UP College of Medicine.
A rights-based call for the whole education sector
As stipulated in the Constitution and international law, education is a right, and a catalyst for progressive social development. According to the International Commission of Education in the 21st Century, education is the responsibility of the whole society, and thus Iskolars ng Bayan, more than simply shedding light on the education crisis, must be vigilant in finding solutions to it. We have identified several government expenditures that may be rationalized and instead allocated for education: the President’s confidential and intelligence fund, the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s conditional cash transfer program, the Philippine Racing Commission, and the allocation for the Office of the President to monitor the Visiting Forces Agreement.
The Aquino Administration has made much of its promise to follow the Matuwid na Daan. It would do well to heed the people, its bosses, who say that education is the way this Matuwid na Daan can be made possible.
On education policies towards sustainable and responsive solutions
In keeping with the 1996 Delors benchmark of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), six percent (6%) of a country’s gross national product (GNP) should be allocated for education spending.
From 2006 – 2010, the Philippine government spent an average P185 billion for education or only 2.29% of GNP, far below the 6% standard. In 2012, the Aquino administration appropriated P308.95 billion for education spending, or only 3.17% of GNP (NSCB 2010).
We call on our legislators, who are elected public officials, to answer our call and protect our basic human rights. They must enact a law that makes education spending equivalent, at least, to 6% of GNP – the international standard.
They must champion the reform of various laws that prevent the sufficient allocation for education spending, namely: the automatic debt servicing provisions in Presidential Decree No. 1177 and in Executive Order No. 292 of 1987.
The Education Act of 1982, deregulating the education sector, must be repealed as it has contributed to the deterioration of our education sector. Section 38 of this law allows secondary and post-secondary schools to more freely charge higher tuition and other school fees, in order to improve facilities or to accommodate more students.
The Long Term Higher Educational Development Plan, implemented during Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s term, continues under President Aquino. The plan prescribes the following targets for 2010: (1) a reduction in 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) collaboration with big businesses of 60 percent of SUCs.
Currently, the UP System already has multiple projects together with the Ayala Corporation, transforming our different campuses into resorts, malls, and parks. Among SUCs and even private schools, tuition fees have skyrocketed, and redundant and unnecessary fees have sprouted. Meanwhile, the state of our facilities remains poor. The students are left to suffer in the worsening condition of our education sector, and carry the burden of compensating for the continuous cuts faced by our SUCs.
These policies, which limit the accessibility and quality of education, are at the heart of our education crisis.
We call for higher state subsidy for SUCs
Despite President Aquino’s assertions to the contrary, State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) cannot, and should not, be self-sufficient and independent despite recent forays into income generating projects (IGPs). Such projects only serve as a pretext for government to abandon its responsibility for education, in violation of the UP Charter. The income from IGPs such as the UP-Ayala Technohub and the planned UP Town Center will never be sufficient to cover to be a growing budget shortfall for the university.
The government must not abandon its role in providing accessible and quality education to all citizens, whether rich or poor. How can Iskolars ng Bayan, the nation’s best and brightest, fulfill their obligation and give back to the country if their potential is stifled by an improperly financed university?
For immediate action.
EDUCATION IS A RIGHT!
INVEST IN THE FUTURE! PRIORITIZE EDUCATION!
YES TO HIGHER STATE SUBSIDY!
YES TO ACCESSIBLE EDUCATION FOR ALL!