by Kiko Espinoza
August 8, 2011
State universities and colleges (SUCs) will experience a P203 million budget slash for 2012. In the Noynoy Aquino administration’s 2012 National Expenditure Program (NEP) proposed to the House of Representatives, P21.8 billion will be allocated to SUCs. This is lower compared to the P22.03 billion approved 2011 budget for SUCs.
The Philippine Normal University (PNU) will suffer a P12.8 million budget cut. This is equivalent to a 10% decrease, placing PNU in the eighth spot among the top SUCs that will experience a budget slash. PNU’s maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE), for example, will be decreased by P3.9 million. This puts PNU among the 45 schools that will experience shears in its MOOEs. Despite the supposed automatic increase in the fund allocation for Personal Services (PS), 58 universities will be lowered of their PS allotments, amounting to a total of P403.3 million. The government will not appropriate any amount for the capital outlay of SUCs.
The history of budget cuts has seen how SUCs have been pushed to devise ways to augment their meager budget. These usually take on the form of tuition increases, merging of classes, imposition of miscellaneous and exorbitant fees, and collaboration with private entities and corporations. These moves, according to Mr. John Clifford Sibayan, PNU Student Government – Manila’s Vice President for Internal Affairs, are tantamount to the “commercialization and privatization of education.”
Sibayan added that collaboration between SUCs and private entities is now touted as “Public-Private Partnership,” a commercial transaction highly endorsed by the Aquino administration. “Public-Private Partnership” is nothing but a “perfumed name for privatization. It will ultimately put the core of public education into the heart of commercialization, where private firms dictate even the curricula of universities.”
PNU President Dr. Ester B. Ogena is in favor of Public-Private Partnership. During the June 15, 2011 investiture of Ogena, she presented her “8-point Agenda” which includes modernization schemes for PNU in collaboration with different private investors. “Anyaya ito sa pribatisasyon,” explained Sibayan, since the Ogena administration will encourage the entry of the private sector in the university’s affairs in order to generate funds. These, supposedly, will aid PNU to carry out its mandate as a National Center for Teacher Education (NCTE).
Sibayan said that PNU students and student institutions “will be vigilant sa lahat ng mga nagaganap sa PNU.” He also stressed that they will unite with other SUCs to fight for a higher state subsidy to education and will oppose any form of privatization and commercialization. Sibayan further noted that because of the budget cut, it is not hard to imagine a possibility of tuition fee increase and a high dropout rate among students.