Press Release
June 5, 2013

Cayetano to Tejadas: Let us work together to make education
affordable and accessible to all Filipinos

As millions of Filipino start classes this week, Senate minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano turned the public's attention to the 11.6 million Filipino youth aged 6 to 24 who are currently out of school due to their families' inability to afford the increasing cost of education in the country.

"It is alarming to note that for every 100 students that enter Grade 1, only 66 finish Grade 6 and only 58 continue on to high school. Of this number, only 46 finish high school and only 20 enter college. At the end, only 16 out of the 100 successfully obtain an undergraduate degree," he said.

Cayetano recalled that during his PTK (Presyo, Trabaho, Kita) Listening Tour, his discussions with parents all over the country all revealed that the access to education is severely limited to due the high cost of education. "It became clear to me that the government needs to step in and help our country's youth obtain an education," he said.

The senator explained that in the case of college students, the high cost of tuition is only the tip of the iceberg. "According to the student leaders I talked to during our listening tours, tuition fees amount to only 25 to 35 percent of the overall cost of their education. When you add this to the additional fees like transportation and textbooks amounting to P15,000 - P20,000, you see why the dream of attending college is becoming impossible for far too many families," he said.

Cayetano, pointed out that the sad fate that befell Kristel Tejada, a 16-year-old Behavioral Science student from UP Manila who committed suicide allegedly due to her inability to pay for her education, should act as a wakeup call for the government to step in and help increase access to education for the country's youth. "The number one natural resource of the country is the Filipino people, hence the government needs to step in to ensure that everyone - rich or poor - has access to the education they desire," he said.

The minority leader stressed that focusing on education will ultimately solve the livelihood problems plaguing the nation since an educated workforce will ultimately lead to more income and opportunities for the country in the future. "An investment in education today guarantees better opportunities in the future. An educated workforce will help improve the economy in such a way the entire country will enjoy low prices, abundant job opportunities, and high income," he said.

In this light, Cayetano encouraged Christopher and Blesilda Tejada, Kristel's parents, to take up this cause and act as spokespersons for parents all over the country to ask that government make education affordable and accessible to all.

Cayetano emphasized that doing so is only right given that education is the government's obligation to its people. "That is why in Taguig, with its 300 million scholarship fund, not only do the elementary and high school students have zero tuition, they also have free school supplies, ready-to-wear uniforms, and even health kits. For the tertiary level, the city government has maintained a No-Tuition-Fee policy for all Taguig residents enrolled at the Taguig City University (TCU)," he shared.

As for the newly-implemented K-12 program, Cayetano said it can be great program, however there should be safety nets for students and teachers to avoid further drop outs. "If families cannot afford it, it defeats the purpose of having a better curriculum as it can lead to more drop outs," he said.

Cayetano affirmed his commitment to monitor the program's implementation and to introduce amendments, if needed, to ensure that that quality education is affordable and accessible to all.

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