Press Release
February 27, 2013


"We should make public education absolutely free," Senator Alan Cayetano said today when asked to comment on violations by several schools on the ban on imposing graduation fees issued by the Department of Education (DepEd). "Otherwise, we will continue the sad cycle of children dropping out of school just to support their families. In this case, the students skip their graduation rites because they cannot afford it."

Cayetano argued that the only way to make this memorandum effective is to cover the fees incurred by schools. "In Taguig, we don't have this problem because the city continued my program of ensuring that there is enough budget to cover all expenses not only for graduation, but also uniforms, text books, school supplies, the electric bill, and even the prom," he said.

Cayetano defended teachers and heads of universities by explaining that the reason why they are doing this is because they are not making enough income or have insufficient MOOE (Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses). "A lot of schools do not have enough income, so we cannot blame them for having to resort to charging fees for special occasions like graduation," Cayetano said. "But in Taguig, in continuing my educational programs, the city has been waiving the graduation fees of all 34 public schools in Taguig for the past two years."

Cayetano said that for this year's graduation, Taguig City is sponsoring the graduation fees of 17,613 public school students. This is in addition to the scholarships given by the city to all students of the graduating class and also to the most outstanding student of each class in all levels both in elementary and high school.

"I am proud to share that Mayor Lani has been able continue and improve our educational funding program and doubled the city's scholarship fund, going from P100 million in 2011 to P200 million this year. This was done through careful re-allocation of funds and strict budgeting of public resources," he said. "I urge the national government and other local government units (LGUs) to study the model that we used."

Cayetano further suggested that national government should also share this burden with LGUs by allocating part of the budget of DepEd to subsidize graduation fees, especially in the poorer provinces and municipalities. He explained that if this practice can be done in Taguig, there is no excuse not to be able to do it nationally.

Cayetano noted that with the P30 billion increase in the DepEd budget for 2013, the agency has to put equal focus on all important aspects of the Basic Education Enhancement Program and at the same time, relieve the burden of the poor from these additional expenses.

Cayetano encouraged other LGUs to follow in the footsteps of Taguig City and strictly follow DepEd's directive. "Education must be a topmost priority of every LGU, because it is through this that the youth are equipped with the proper knowledge and skills to acquire the jobs they need and earn the wages they deserve," he said.

As chairman of the Committee on Education during the 14th Congress and as Senate Minority Leader in the 15th Congress, Cayetano initiated efforts to make educational loans and scholarships more responsive and easily accessible to deserving students. He was also steadfast in seeking more funding for basic and tertiary education, and for better compensation for public school teachers.

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