By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Kabataan partylist Rep. Sarah Elago scoffed Thursday at the memorandum released by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) containing 141 “disallowed fees” which can be collected from the students by state universities and colleges (SUCs).
She said such fees are not covered by the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act or the Free Education law.
“This is contrary to the spirit of the law and the aspiration of millions of Filipino youth and students who campaigned and fought for their right to free education,” Elago said in a statement.
“Ang esensya ng libreng edukasyon ay ang pagtanggal sa sistema ng koleksyon ng mga bayarin. Ayaw na natin na makahadlang ang kawalan ng pambayad para sa pagkamit ng karapatan sa edukasyon,” she said.
She said the government should not put a price tag on education.
“Education is a right of every Filipino. There shouldn’t be a price tag to education,” Elago stressed, citing reports from PUP Maragondon and PUP Lopez students that fees such as Certificate of Grades fee are now being collected from them.
Kabataan national president Angelica Reyes laments the reimposition of the 141 fees.
“Libre pero may bayad? Inaagaw ang tagumpay natin sa libreng edukasyon! We’ve already moved forward in our fight for free education. Let us not make a step back by allowing the government to reimpose 141 fees,” she said.
“Sinisingil na naman tayo ng napakaraming bayarin samantalang wala pa ring pondo ang maraming student councils and publications. Bulok pa rin ang pasilidad at napakaliit pa rin ng budget sa edukasyon. Sa mga private schools and universities naman, 1400 ang eskwelahan na nakaambang magtaas,” Reyes added.
She said a massive youth protest is expected Friday, April 5, to express their staunch opposition against the collection of tuition and other fees in SUCs and to strengthen their demand for free education.
“Let us all unite against these attempts to deprive us of our right to education. Free tuition and other fees is a victory of the youth and student movement and we will not allow the Duterte government and CHED to rob this victory from us,” Reyes said.