Issue of September 6, 2020
Mt. Province
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City tackles tuition hike, plight of laid-off teachers
by Hanna C. Lacsamana

Majority of the schools in Baguio have agreed to suspend charging of school and miscellaneous fees as well freeze the implementation of tuition increase this school year.

Councilor Vladimir Cayabas, chair of the city council committee on education, culture, creativity, and historical research, said since schools have been mandated to implement blended or flexi learning due to the threats of the Covid-19 pandemic, payment of miscellaneous fees such as sports and library fees would not be suitable at this time when face-to-face learning is not possible.

He said they have also requested education institutions particularly universities and colleges not to impose tuition increases. “Itong mga sports fees o library fees, sa tingin natin hindi naman directly magagamit ng mga estudyante,” Cayabas said in a radio interview Tuesday.

The city council earlier conducted dialogues with representatives from the Department of Education, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and the Commission on Higher Education to thresh out concerns regarding the class opening and the impacts of the pandemic to the education sector.

The agencies have informed the council during its latest consultation that the schools have consented to the request of the city council not to charge miscellaneous fees.

Cayabas said according to the CHEd, some of the higher education institutions have already applied for tuition increase and these were approved by CHEd before the Covid-19 pandemic occurred, but they have agreed not to implement tuition increase.

He said removing these charges in the meantime would also help ease the financial burden of parents whose paying capacity has been affected by the series of community lockdowns since March.

The councilor added the committee also filed resolutions asking the Social Security System to include schools, especially small private learning institutions, in its assistance program since schools are not included in the list of qualified aid recipients; requesting the Department of Social Welfare and Development to provide family food packs to school teachers and workers impacted by the crisis; and requesting the Department of Labor and Employment to also prioritize those in the education sector in the CAMP assistance.

Cayabas said many teachers in the city receive small salaries, whose salaries are delayed, some have been laid off due to temporary closure of the schools they are working for; and others are working under “no work, no pay” arrangement due to low enrolment rate since there are schools which are heavily dependent on the number of enrollees.

The councilor has appealed to schools planning to close either permanently or temporarily to reconsider and try to as much as possible manage the challenges, because it would be more difficult to restart operations.

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