Thursday, May 21, 2009

F(r)ee Education: a reaction

We are almost in the last week of May and most are busy preparing for June's school opening. Parents are once again faced with the perennial problem of tuition fees for their schoolchildren.

I read in the Philippine Daily Inquirer that a parent wrote in and complained about fees being collected and the withholding of cards of these fees are not settled.

I would like to say something about the position Jerry Esplanada took when he wrote Assignment: DepEd Free means "no fee". He laid down the problem parents encounter every schoolyear very well. He even manage to get some DepEd insiders to recognize fee collection as an "open secret." He also quoted Antonio Tinio, from ACT, that the main problem lies in the budget allocation and educational policies of DepED.

However, Mr. Esplanada concluded that "there is nothing wrong" with fee collection as long as it is voluntary and without consequences if not paid for. this is a very passive stand regarding this issue. He should have pushed a line of reasoning along Mr. Tinio's explanation. When Mr. Esplanada wrote that violations of "no fee collection" is an open secret, there is already something deeply wrong about it. Public schools are compelled to find creative ways to augment their Maintenance, Operating ang Other Expenses (MOOE) Allocation because the buget allocated for them is hardly enough.

The budgetary allocations and educational policies of the government betray a low regard for quality education. Mr. Esplanada should have maintained that education is a right and should be adequately subsidized by the government.

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