Battle for equal access to education: Fund HUMSS, too! | Inquirer Opinion

Battle for equal access to education: Fund HUMSS, too!

/ 04:05 AM May 14, 2024

As education is privatized, schools and universities have the prerogative to increase tuition, thus, making it difficult for students to cope with the expenses. This is where scholarships are needed the most. But even scholarship opportunities are not given equally.

I remember feeling deeply frustrated when I came across a post offering a scholarship for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students. I tried to find scholarships for humanities and social sciences (HUMSS) students but was disappointed when I saw more posts about scholarships on Facebook that prioritized STEM programs. To make things worse, the program that I wanted to pursue in college was media-related.

When the results of the Ateneo College Entrance Test came out, I was overjoyed that I qualified for the Bachelor of Arts in Communication program. Yet the P125,000 tuition per semester snapped me back to reality. There was no way my family could afford that.

Even if I look for scholarships, I would be too well-off to qualify for them, yet still too poor to afford prestigious universities. The harsh reality slapped me hard. It was neither my fault that I could not afford to study nor that I was less fortunate in life. I realized I should direct my sentiments toward the perennial inequalities the government should address.


The Philippine Institute for Development Studies said the country has been underinvesting despite being mandated by the Constitution to give highest budgetary priority to education. Given the allocated budget, why is it as if there is no manifestation of its usage in our educational system? An online journal by Dr. Rohaiba Radiamoda of the National Sun Yat-sen University noted that the state has failed to meet the Unesco-prescribed standard wherein at least 4-6 percent of the GDP is to be allocated for education because neoliberalism in the Philippines advances privatization and limits government spending.

With the limited budget, why do government institutions such as the Department of Science and Technology and the Commission on Higher Education focus too much on offering scholarships that are STEM-centric? Is it because those fields are money-generating? Or perhaps these are in demand locally and internationally?

It is akin to saying that humanities and social sciences have no place in our society when in fact we are the ones who study complex societal issues and analyze theories on how to improve society. We thrive on understanding ideologies in politics, arts, history, literature, languages, and media as these are the backbone of society. How would our society progress if we were ignorant of the mechanisms and frameworks that run our nation?

Despite its significance, people have preconceived notions that the courses are easy and that those who take these programs are impractical. Hence, compared to the demand for doctors, nurses, data analysts, and engineers, the job opportunities for HUMSS-related fields seem lower but what people do not realize is that the field offers a broad range of opportunities.


Having a degree in those disciplines is beneficial for people who want a flexible career in the future since the acquired skills such as critical thinking, public speaking, writing, and communicating are essential in any type of work such as being a call center agent or a virtual assistant which are some of the most in-demand jobs in the country.

We can never truly actualize a fully functional society if we do not have political analysts, lawyers, teachers, artists, psychologists, philosophers, and media practitioners. However, inadequate funding puts the field at a disadvantage so people resort to more profitable professions.


The dominant misconceptions indicate the little importance placed on studying humanities and social sciences. But then again, this is not a battle between the hard sciences and humanities. This is a battle for equal access to opportunities to fully exercise our right to education.

To the government and other institutions: Fund the humans in humanities and social sciences, too.

Amanda Joy Villaroman,

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University of the Philippines Baguio

TAGS: education, opinion

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