Workers from Southern Tagalog decried the Department of Education’s (DepEd) approval to raise the tuition and other fees of more than 1,200 private elementary and high schools, saying this, coupled with the implementation of the K to 12 program, “will only promote contractualization of the labor force” and will “further give Lucio Tan and such businessmen profits”.
DepEd’s approval was made just several days after the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) approved tuition hike in 313 private higher education institutions.
Anse Are, president of the Tanggulang Ugnayan Daluyang Lakas ng Anakpawis sa Tanduay Distillers Inc. (TUDLA), expressed their discontent with the lack of concern by the DepEd officials on the lives of workers who are breadwinners for their families. “We are parents who everyday toil with sweat and blood and yet the government only makes things more difficult for us. With a measly wage of P315, no benefits, and no job security, how can we have the sufficient fund to send our children to school? Even if we work overtime, it is still not enough,” he said.
Are stressed that Lucio Tan, who is the 2nd richest Filipino to date according to Forbes Magazine, also owns the University of the East and its network of schools.
“This clearly shows how the government serves the interest of capitalists like Tan while turning a blind eye to their widespread exploitation of Filipino workers,” Are said. He cited their ongoing strike (in its 9th day today) at Tanduay Distillers Inc. in Cabuyao, Laguna where 397 decade-long workers are still contractual.
Almost every day, Lucio Tan’s answer to the workers’ just demands is violence from security guards and hired goons attempting to disperse their picket line.
Meanwhile, Ariel Velasquez, Chairperson of the Liga ng mga Manggagawa Para sa Regular na Hanapbuhay (LIGA) slammed DepEd’s implementation of the K to 12 program saying that additional two years of education combined with shortages of at least 209,539 classrooms and 114,304 teachers further burdens the already dismal condition of workers.
“Vocational courses in senior high school are obviously geared for the youth to become contractual workers. We have already received reports from industrial zones in Cavite wherein pseudo-tertiary institutions in connivance with the Technical Education and Skills Development employ students in the guise of On-the-Job Trainees. We fear this scheme will also be implemented to high school students,” Velasquez said adding that instead of learning to become professionals, these OJTs are already exposed as workers involved with production –no different from contractual and regular workers.
“The educational system only serves to proliferate contractualization, again to the benefit of the richest few company owners like Lucio Tan,” Velasquez said. #