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Equality in Public Tertiary Education

By: Noel P. de Guzman, PhD
During the Christmas season of 2016, students of state universities and colleges (SUCs) in the Philippines got a rather surprising gift from the government. It was announced that
starting the school year 2017, students in SUCs do not have to pay tuition. As it turns out, the government has enough money in the national budget to make this possible. This is undoubtedly good news for the parents of these students. However, let’s “unwrap” this present, and see exactly what is involved.
The rationale for public funding of education across all levels, not just tertiary, is the anticipated positive externality it generates. An educated citizen not only does well individually, but also contributes increased well-being for others. For example, educated citizens are presumably more cooperative members of society. They can also become more entrepreneurial and can generate jobs in the future. Not surprisingly, there is a large literature on the growth-enhancing effect of education. This is why, in an ideal setting, free public education should be made available to as many people as possible, regardless of ability.
The Philippines, for the most part, is on the right track when it comes to education reform. Earlier initiatives, like the K to 12 and the Conditional Cash- Transfer Program, are components of an overall push to improve the quality and quantity of education in the country. The granting of free tuition at SUCs is simply another intervention that, like the others, has efficiency and equity dimensions that must be carefully considered.
Read the full article at http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/equality-public-tertiary-education/