Nationalist youth balk over school opening woes, education capitalism, govt infra spending policies | BICOL TODAY

Nationalist youth balk over school opening woes, education capitalism, govt infra spending policies

CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region – As Bicol public students start their Monday opening of classes, they have nothing to rejoice as prices of food and commodities, and school-related goods have spiraled, costly to the average Filipino family.

In addition to this is the government preference to spend more for infrastructure, rather than raising family income and granting full education support.

Youth group Anakbayan blamed these problems on Duterte’s neo-liberal policies allowing capitalism to take-over pro-people interests.

“As students prepare to face the challenges of the coming school year, students will once again face the dismal shortage of classrooms, chairs, textbooks, and teachers, thanks to the Duterte’s neoliberal, anti-people policies. Aside from the lack of support on basic education, Duterte’s government continues to assault students’ families by allowing over 500 private schools to increase tuition fees and driving up the cost of school supplies and baon with the TRAIN Law,” Anakbayan informed BicolToday in Naga City.

Anakbayan pointed out: “The government’s rhetoric of “change is coming” clearly changes for the worse. The Department of Education (DepEd) has admitted that over 600 public schools are not ready for the start of classes, meaning they face serious shortages in classrooms, chairs, toilets, teachers, electricity, and water, but classes are still unfortunately required to commence. It’s obvious that DepEd is either inefficient and ineffective in creating an environment for conducive learning, or that DepEd leadership simply does not care if students learn anything.”

Infrastructure over people

Anakbayan explained: “These changes for the worse are unsurprising given the Duterte regime’s fetish of infrastructure over people. From 2017 to 2018, Duterte increased the budget of DepEd by only 1.72 percent, from P543 billion to P552 billion. Meanwhile, he increased the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) by over 40 percent, from P454 billion to P637 billion. That’s more than 180 billion pesos towards one of the country’s most inefficient, ineffective, and corrupt agencies. Duterte’s obvious priority is his ambitious “Build Build Build” program, ensuring the profits of large corporations, foreign companies, and contractors, where he and his cronies can enjoy millions in kickbacks.”

“We all know how underpaid our public school teachers are. Yet for all the budgetary increases that DepEd has received, none of these go towards increasing the salaries of our education front-liners. Our teachers work so hard and live on or below the poverty line in order to continue to teach. They spend their own salaries towards providing their students with, for example, photocopied learning materials – which should be free – yet DepEd does not even have the decency to increase their salaries or provide them with additional benefits,” Einstein Recedes, secretary-general, said.

Profit over people

Anakbayan blames education capitalism: “Aside from allowing over 500 private schools to increase their tuition and other school fees, the DepEd is also complicit in funneling public money into the pockets of private capitalist-educators. Over P26 billion of the DepEd’s 2018 budget is allocated towards direct subsidies of private schools under the Education Service Contracting (ESC) Scheme and the Senior High School Voucher Program (SHS-VP). Instead of spending this money towards improving the quality of public education, DepEd instead chooses to pay private school owners while packaging it as a subsidy for public school students.”

Anakbayan believes that these schemes contribute towards the increasing numbers of school dropouts. Students and their families are duped into thinking that the ESC and SHS Voucher tuition subsidies would cover the full cost of private education, when in reality these schools force these students to pay additional “top-up fees.” These students are then forced to drop-out in the middle of the school year as they are unable to pay.

Tuition increases and direct subsidies of private schools via the voucher programs are examples of the state’s abandonment of its duty to provide education as a public good, in-line with its overall neoliberal policies towards social services.

K-12: Dropout factory

Moreover, DepEd’s flagship Senior High School Program is useless. The DepEd is forced to eat its own promises of decent jobs in the face of the program’s failure. They promised students and their families that by implementing the K-12 program, graduates would be employable without needing further tertiary education, but employers and industry experts themselves have insisted that they are not keen in accepting K-12 graduates for work. After placing an additional two years of burden on parents in the form of additional fees, supplies, and baon, the program is all for naught. Instead of focusing on improving the access and quality of basic education by ensuring that students have sufficient classrooms, textbooks, equipment, and teachers, the DepEd implemented K-12.

Data collected by Anakbayan suggests that the increased burden on students and their families contributes to an unprecedented increase in the number of dropouts, with K-12 dropout rates around being more than 10 percent, based on DepEd’s data.

According to DepEd’s statements, nearly 1.2 million students graduated Grade 12 this year. That’s around 300,000 less from the number of Grade 10 graduates two school years ago who were expected to enroll in Senior High School. Where are these students? It is clear that far from improving it, K-12 instead resulted in a worsening of education quality. It is clear that K-12 is a failure, and DepEd should be held accountable for pushing this program that resulted in 300,000 new dropouts.

As another school year opens, it is clear that woes in the education sector still persists, and it will linger as long as the Duterte government continue to subscribe to the neoliberal education framework of neglecting its responsibility to provide free, accessible, and quality education at all levels, while allowing the private sector to turn students and their families as cash-cows to rake millions in profit.

Posted by on June 7, 2018. Filed under Nation,Top Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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