Free tuition pledge under fire in Philippines

New policy may not benefit poorer households, say officials                

February 23, 2017

Economists have hit out against a new policy that would scrap tuition fees at state universities in the Philippines.

A report by finance officials argues that the change would not benefit the poor and would be a financial drain on the government, according to a report in Philstar Global.

Under the first budget of Rodrigo Duterte, the new president, government education spending was increased earlier this year to cover the costs of providing free tuition.

In the report, the secretaries of socioeconomic planning, finance and budget say that the policy would not benefit poorer households as they may not be able to afford the other expenses associated with higher education. Tuition is only a small proportion of the total cost, they say.

The secretaries say that it would be richer households that would benefit from free tuition because they have the means to fund the rest of the costs associated with university study.

They add that the policy would be difficult to sustain and that maintaining an existing subsidy system that targets those most in need and gives help with tuition, and living and learning expenses, would be a better option.

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