Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto today blasted as “untrue and unfair” the characterization that state colleges are enclaves of the moneyed class.
“I think that description has no factual basis,” Recto said. “Enrollees in provincial SUCs (state universities and colleges) come from the bottom rungs of society, like farming families, or those who can’t afford private colleges in big cities.”
Recto lamented that “wrong interpretation of data” is being used “to throw a monkey wrench” into the new government program to make public colleges tuition-free.
“First is the claim that 23 percent of total SUC enrollment are from the top 20 percent of the richest families. Shocking at first glance. But if you examine the data coming from the Commission on Higher Education, the richest 20 percent are families whose annual expenditure is P74,028 and up, “ Recto said.
“So by their reckoning, if you’re in the expenditure bracket that spends about P6,500 a month, you’re in the top 20 percent of families by expenditure, with the insinuation that you’re rich, “ Recto said.
Data provided by CHED to Recto’s staff showed that the 1st, or the poorest, quintile of families with a member enrolled in a state college as having a yearly expenditure of P2,620-P18,300.
Second quintile families spend between P18,305 to P28,102. Third quintile: P28,120 to P43,476. Fourth quintile: P43,480 to P74,020.
“Lahat ‘yan mahihirap. Pero ang insinuation ng CHED, pag nasa fourth quintile ka with a yearly expenditure between P44,000 and P74,000, parang may kaya ka na, which is baseless,” Recto said.
Recto said if another metric will be used, such as the Family Income and Expenditures Survey, the results will be the same as the formula used by CHED.
The richest quintile under FIES has an average yearly income of P600,000.
“P50,000 a month ‘yan. Kung merong mag-asawang Master Teacher I, pasok na sa bracket na ‘yon. Moneyed na ba ‘yon? On paper, a monthly family income of P50,000 would land you in the upper 20 percent. But in reality, many families in that class are having a hard time making ends meet,” he said.
The fourth quintile will have an average family monthly income of P24,017. “Mayaman na ba ‘yun ngayon?” Recto asked.
One study being bandied about by the Commission on Higher Education estimates that 23 percent of SUC students come from the fifth quintile, or the richest 20 percent, while 24.7 percent come from the fourth quintile, and 26.8 percent from the third quintile.
Those from the bottom 20 percent or the first quintile account for about 7 percent of SUC students while those in the second quintile represent about 18 percent.
Recto acknowledged the challenge to draw in more students from poor families to college, “but their being underrepresented in SUC campuses shouldn’t be used as an argument against free public college tuition.”
“Dapat sakop ang near-poor, ang middle class, and not to view it from a lens which see the top 20 percent families alone,” Recto said.
“Ang importante siguro makita ang data ng CHED. Last year, tinanong ko sila ng ilang beses kung magkano ang average per student government subsidy ng bawat state college, wala silang maisagot,” Recto said.
Recto also took issue with a CHED claim that the P8.3 billion Congress had appropriated in the 2017 national budget was based on current year enrollment when there is a dip in college enrollment due to the implementation of the senior high program.
Due to the K to 12 curriculum, those who were supposed to proceed to college last year will stay two more years in high schools for Grades 11 and 12.
But Recto said the Senate based its estimate on the amount of tuition fees SUCs collected prior to the “gap year” when SUCs “had a full load of enrollees.”
“These were P7.9 billion in 2014 and P9.5 billion in 2015. Kaya mali yung sinabi na two years from now lolobo na to P16 billion ang kailangan kasi mababa ang enrolment ngayon,” he said.
“Whatever the amount would be, it is fundable in this era of trillion-peso budgets and by the time the government will be collecting higher taxes,” Recto said.