MANILA, May 30, 2013—More than hurting parents’ pockets come enrollment time, “inevitable” tuition hike is actually causing enrollment statistics in Catholic schools to decline, according to the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP).
After the Department of Education (DepEd) approved the application of 903 private schools to raise tuition for the incoming school year and the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) approved the petition of 354 private colleges and universities to hike fees, parents have been complaining about how the Catholic education continues to get expensive.
But CEAP president Fr. Gregorio Bañaga C.M. said parents and school administrators share the consequence of increasing matriculation fees.
Speaking on behalf of the administrators of some 1,450 CEAP member-schools nationwide, Bañaga said operation and maintenance of schools get difficult to manage when the number of enrollees decreases due to tuition hikes.
He said that with dropping enrollment, schools would have no choice but to go to lenders just to get the funds to sustain the school and pay for its expenses.
Citing the case of Vincentian-managed De Paul College in Jaro, Iloilo, Bañaga said the Congregation of Mission has decided to abolish the school after the number of enrollees became non-viable to sustain the operation of the school.
“The gradual phasing out of the school is in process. Eventually, part of the school will be leased and the proceeds will be used to pay the debts of the school and eventually to rehabilitate and restart the school,” he said.
Bañaga, who is also the incumbent president of Adamson University in Manila, also clarified that majority of the proceeds of tuition hike are used to maintain quality teachers in private schools, who would otherwise transfer to public schools where they will be getting higher compensation.
“Almost 70 percent of the proceeds of tuition hikes go to the salaries of teachers. The remaining 20 percent are used to renew and upgrade the physical facilities of the school and only about 10 percent go back to the school as return of investment,” he said.
“We have to increase tuition basically because we need to give private school teachers competitive salaries. Otherwise, we will lose them to public schools or to schools abroad,” Bañaga added.
The priest also clarified that school officials consider a lot of factors in deciding whether a tuition hike is necessary or not. Bañaga cited prevailing market prices as one of the most significant consideration of school administrators.
“If you price yourself too high, you may lose your clients. But if you also price yourself too low, people will assume that the quality of education in your school is substandard,” he said.
But Bañaga claimed Catholic schools are “forced” to increase its fees if they want to maintain the quality education that private schools are known for.
“We are forced to (hike tuition) because we want education to be of quality. But we get blamed for it. This is somehow unfair because the Church, through the congregations, parishes, and religious organizations that operate Catholic schools, is only complementing the efforts of the State to educate our people,” he said.
Despite the Church’s initiative, the State only subsidizes the operation of government-run schools and scarcely supports private Catholic schools, Bañaga lamented.
Bañaga urged government to raise more funds for education but could not readily give a suggestion on to how to go about it.
Despite the increasing cost of sending students to Catholic schools, the CEAP chief still urged parents to consider it as a worthy investment.
“Why do you think parents are still sending their children to Catholic schools even if there is continuous tuition hikes? This is because they are convinced of the quality education that their children are getting. Otherwise, they would have opted to send their children to public schools,” he added. (KB/YouthPinoy)