WHY DO CATHOLIC SCHOOLS CHARGE MORE WHEN THEY PAY LESS TAX?


I am a Catholic since birth. It is not that I was not given the choice at all since my parents had me baptized when I was barely days old and incapable of deciding. I grew to love my religion and upon receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation, I have taken Catholicism by will and by heart.

To this end, I took my primary and secondary education in a private and a Catholic school where I get to enjoy academic excellence and Christian formation. The quality of education was excellent for me yet I know that local public schools are doing great as well especially if you are in the “science” and “star” sections.

I came from a middle-class family.  During those times, my parents had to send me and my sister to school with no other intention but for us to get the best education available without us being left behind by cousins and neighbors. The family income then was just enough to send us to school. All else was on a tight budget!

Every father then were to work abroad specifically in the Middle East. It was a trend I guess. So my father spent quite a few years abroad working while my mom lived with us as she was working with a government bureau. Every enrollment was quite tense for the family. Although we never get to hear everything, I see my parents “problematic” in those periods.

Why? Because as I step higher on my grade level, the tuition fee increases from 10 to 30% and my parents’ income are not even going any higher those days. A government job is not that high paying. No one gets rich unless they do “something” and my mother is a “straight” and “honest” citizen of the land even until now.

My dad went home from abroad and ventured to steel fabrications and construction. I was already in high school with my sister. Mt. Pinatubo erupted. We moved to a new place. My 2nd sister was born. Amidst this, each year, I would hear my parents either arguing or discussing options how to sustain our education.

Two additional siblings were born later. The family size grew and the cost doubled or tripled due to inflation and non-increasing family income. From Grade 1 until I reached high school, each 10% increase made the cost of education double or triple. We survived anyhow. Thanks to my parents!

Years after, here I am as a dad in the same shoes where my parents where and wondering why I had to be “problematic” as well during enrollment periods. I valued education so much for my only son that it was my top priority. I tried sending him to a special public education for the gifted. It was almost free and the curriculum is actually accelerated because it was intended for kids with advanced IQ.

There I realized that if only there were a lot of public schools then with good facilities and with teachers who would spend more time teaching than selling “polvorons” and “tocinos” then we could have saved a fortune by availing a public education. Back then, you cannot blame public school teachers. Life is tough for them as well.

Unfortunately, my wife and I had to relocate to Manila for greater opportunities. I wrote a letter to DepEd (Department of Education) inquiring for my son’s admission to any advanced learning facilities in the city. Unfortunately again, the schools were either too far from us or that the environment around was not too good for me as per my preference.

I always remember this story of a pupil who was so bright that he passed away so soon because the community around Philippine Science High School was not that safe for kids then. I myself got almost into the same incident during my years in UP Diliman because it was so open to the public that security is often compromised.

Instead, I enrolled my son to a private and “exclusive-for-boys” catholic school not because of quality education since I know that public schools offer the same high quality as well but for security and for good school facilities. More so, the proximity to our residence is a value proposition.

Now I need not to worry much about my son’s travel to school since it is almost a few steps away from our place which gives us a little peace of mind in terms of safety and security plus the huge savings on school shuttle. The only repercussion is the fact that education here is way too expensive.

The history I had with regards to the hardships my parents had to endure just to send us off to a Catholic school due to its high cost and the yearly tuition fee hike is still strongly felt nowadays. I am wondering why amidst the tax incentives that religious institutions enjoy plus the fact that part of the missions of the Church is to serve and to observe charity and community service that schools run by Churches are the most expensive and enterprising of all.

Amidst my opinion, my faith remains strong and I do not have anything against the religion. I know somehow that Catholic schools perhaps charge more so they can improve facilities and pay their employees more. The only thing that these schools forget is the welfare of the parents as well. We work so hard to keep our kids to schools but not to the point that we cannot anymore afford to have 3 full sets of meals a day.

More so, since schools already earn from the annual 10-30% tuition increase plus the miscellaneous fees, why do they have to monopolize the sale of school supplies as well? How can I buy my son his sets of notebooks at the National Bookstore that only cost P10-P15 per piece when the school requires them to use only the school-provided notebooks with the school logo in its cover? Will he be allowed at all to write his lecture instead on cheaper notebooks other than the P48 per piece school-supplied notebooks?

Even the polo shirts that usually cost P75-P100 in Divisoria and P170 at known malls would cost P230 to P250 in my son’s school. I wonder why they would make so much profit on students and parents amidst the Global Financial Crisis. Besides, I am pretty much sure that the Board of Directors of these schools comprises of priests and nuns that are supposed to best understand that not all students come from rich families.

Anyway, I just woke up. Perhaps, having to read my son’s Enrollment Receipt just after I woke up gave me a little “high blood pressure”. I should have checked this document week ago but I was too busy. After having to pay in FULL my son’s enrollment for this year, we still have to wait for August 2009 to pay for “ADJUSTMENTS” which is a yearly practice that amounts somewhere from P10,000 to P15,000 approximately.

I do not know why paying in FULL is not actually paying in FULL. More so, having an annual tuition hike for years, when will schools particularly “PRIVATE” and those run by “CHURCHES” get to realize that EDUCATION has to be accessible and need not to be TOO EXPENSIVE. I know that they have to sustain as well their operation in terms of its financial aspect but selling P48-per piece notebooks when malls sell them for P10-P15 is something that is a little “profiteering”. I apologize for the word but that is what I feel right now. 

After decades of such experiences from being a student to being a parent sending a child to school, I still have some troubles answering the very own question I have which I used as a title for this blog entry. WHY DO CATHOLIC SCHOOLS CHARGE MORE WHEN THEY PAY LESS TAX? This is excluding the fact that as religious institutions, community service, charity and Christian formation are to be made basic in their business operation.

Anyhow, I have no option but to keep my son in school. Besides, he is doing well and is topping his class. I am just sharing my two cents anyway. I do hope that some of you can share as well some of your insights to the topic I raised. I am hoping as well that QUALITY EDUCATION in the future will be made more AVAILABLE and ACCESSIBLE to people whether rich, middle-class or poor. Besides, it’s every kid’s right to have a quality education!

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