CHED Chief Is Neither Anti-Student nor Anti-People

Militant youth groups are obviously misguided in their recent criticisms of the chairperson of the Philippines' Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Patricia Licuanan. Higher education is evidently dissimilar from basic education. Basic education is compulsory while higher education is a choice. Every child therefore has the right to enter either a primary or secondary school. Colleges and universities are obviously different in this aspect as these institutions are selective. And the selection comes not so much because of what colleges do but because of what has happened in basic education. Patricia Licuanan is correct in stating, "The poorest of the poor are not yet in college. They have been knocked out long ago and enrollment of the poorest quintile in higher education is only 8 percent. So it’s not going to benefit the poor." Access to higher education is therefore not limited because of tuition, but mainly because of the failures of basic education. 

Above copied from The Inquirer

Higher education is similar to basic education in the sense that both require resources. One may also point out that both stand to benefit society as a whole. There are, however, differences that are substantial between basic and higher education even in terms of public responsibility and public good. One difference lies in the costs. Higher education demands a lot more in terms of resources. An institution of higher learning requires that its faculty remains at the forefront of human knowledge. Instructors in colleges are therefore expected to continue scholarly and research work. The depth and specialization associated with higher education means that instructors at this level have been trained on the subjects of the courses they teach at a high level. Quality in higher education assumes that instructors either have advanced degrees or extensive experience in what they are about to teach. In terms of public good, the difference between basic and higher education lies in how much the individual benefits. Basic education is essential for a society to thrive as it requires a functionally literate citizenry. Society therefore benefits a lot from basic education. With higher education, the individual benefits begin to rise above societal benefits. With this in mind, it is only natural to expect that individuals invest in their higher education, meaning they should cover some of the costs. These are arguments against providing college with free tuition.

Rosos, the leader of the League of Filipino Students, the group that criticizes CHED chairperson Licuanan, maintains however that higher education is a right: "Providing free public education must cover every Filipino youth regardless of their background. There should be no conditions in providing free public education." Rosos is sadly mistaken in equating higher education to basic education. Worse, Rosos fails to see the real reason why access to higher education is not available to all. Unfortunately, repeating what Licuanan said: "The poorest of the poor are not yet in college, They have been knocked out long ago," seems inadequate in bringing some sense to these militant group. Perhaps, this is simply a symptom of how the education system in the Philippines has failed its youth.