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Youth group demands CHEd chief’s resignation 

Neil Alcober

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CHEd Chairman Prospero de Vera. (Facebook grab)
Militant youth group Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan on Wednesday asked the resignation of Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) Chairman Prospero de Vera III after he suggested on live television that universities raise their tuition fees.
“On the part of the universities, they may need a bigger tuition increase because they have to compensate for lost income because, for example, if there is no summer class, there is no revenue on the part of the private university for summer,” De Vera said.
The group said De Vera’s statement was “of utmost insensitivity as it disregards the emotional and economic struggles families will face during and after this pandemic to ensure their children can have quality education.”
Sought for comment, De Vera clarified that only small private universities and colleges which were greatly affected by the enhanced community quarantine due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) can raise their tuition.
“The interview discussed the impact of the enhanced community quarantine and the economic slowdown on private universities and I discussed the possible scenarios specially for small private universities. I said they may need to raise tuition,” De Vera told this reporter in a viber interview.
“I also said CHEd is studying the proposal of private universities for a stimulus package to help them in the post-COVID period. What is wrong with what I said?” the CHEd chief asked.
De Vera said the application period for tuition fee increase started in the first quarter and is still at the regional offices.
“It will be discussed and evaluated there. So as of now I have no idea about who applied, how much they applied for, and their compliance with rules and regulations,” De Vera said.
“So there is nothing to approve as of this moment,” he added.

Leniency

For its part, the Department of Education (DepEd) enjoined private schools to extend leniency in the collection of tuition and other school fees as much as they can without compromising the school’s ability to ensure payment of salaries of their teachers and school personnel during the quarantine period.
“Due to the travel restrictions and projected loss of income resulting from the ongoing suspension of business, students and parents may find difficulty in fulfilling their financial obligations to private schools,” the DepEd said in an earlier statement.
DepEd said private schools may provide assistance such as not collecting fees during this period, extending deadlines for payment, suspending late payment penalties, and allowing payment on a staggered basis or allowing changes in payment methods.
“These, as well as other forms of assistance, will help significantly in alleviating the concerns of students and their families and allow them to focus on their health and safety during these difficult times,” it added.
But a group of private schools said that, so far, none of its members will increase their tuition yet for this year as they are still evaluating it.
“For now that is still being evaluated by each school,”  Lawyer Joseph Noel Estrada, legal counsel of the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Association (Cocopea), told this reporter in a text message.
The education lawyer also said that prior to the quarantine, some schools have already applied for tuition increase at the CHEd and DepEd.
“Schools are exercising prudence on this decision making in balancing the needs of faculty with the sensitivity of students financially affected,” he said.
The Cocopea, the largest umbrella organization of private schools in the country, is composed of Philippine Association of Private Schools, Colleges and Universities, Association of Christian Schools, Colleges and Universities, Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities, and Technical Vocational School Association of the Philippines.
For its part, the Federation of Associations of Private Schools and Administrators (FAPSA) said that most of its members will not increase their tuition.
“First, we are uncertain about the fate of our enrollees in private schools. Why increase tuition if we know parents hardly could make both ends meet? That is not virtuous aside from the fact that it is most contrary to marketing,” Eleazardo Kasilag, FAPSA president, said in a separate text message.
Kasilag, however, said that there is the possibility of increasing miscellaneous fee since they are determined to implement tablet education.
“We may also include asking students to buy tablets —this one shall prove to be more economical since once we start to use ebooks, big bags are out and trolleys, too. And, we are in for bigger academic challenge,” he explained.
p: wjg

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