Maanne Ilagan Lopez
A WORK IN PROGRESS

Youth demonstrators protest their right to education

Blue and Silver January-February 2007

PCU students join the youth mobilization

Youth demonstrators protest their right to education

Different youth sectors mobilized a protest last January 26 to voice out their grievances against the government’s performance towards education.

Participating national youth organizations and students from different colleges and universities marched from University of Santo Tomas (UST) in España to Recto towards Mendiola were: the Kabataan Party, Anakbayan, National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), League of Filipino Students (LFS), Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP), Kabataan para sa Tunay na Kalayaan (Karatula) and the Gabriela Youth; together with students from the University of the Philippines (UP), Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), UST, University of the East (UE), De La Salle University (DLSU), Far Eastern University (FEU), Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (EARIST), Arellano University (AU), Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), Philippine School of Business Administration (PSBA), and the Philippine Christian University (PCU).

According to Raymond Palatino, Kabataan Party national chairperson, the youth mobilization was staged to denounce the performance of the government regarding the high cost of education and the 300% tuition fee increase (TFI) in UP. “Panawagan ditto ay maging priority ng pamahalaan ang edukasyon (The call of the youth is for the government to prioritize education).”

Eleanor de Guzman, Anakbayan national chairperson, said the administration and other instigators of TFI in UP said the government lacks funds and the university needs its own source of income. She also said that the situation shows that the students will shoulder the cost of education.

“Ito ay mismong pag-amin na ang cost of education ay papasanin na ng mga estudyante, sa halip na ito ay serbisyong binibigay ng gobyerno (This is an outright disclosure that the students will now shoulder the cost of education – a service that the government should be giving).”

Aside from the 300% TFI in UP, the protest also appeals on the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) issuance of Memorandum No.14 allowing TFI among state universities and colleges (SUC’s).

The TFI would have to be approved after consultation with students, parents and other educational stakeholders however some SUC’s have not reimbursed the payments they have collected last school year despite the fact that the Congress declared CHEd MEMO 14 illegal and unconstitutional.

De Guzman furthered that even though the issue regarding CHEd MEMO 14 is not yet settled, many private schools are now facing a new round of TFI.

“Sinisimulan nang ihapag ng private schools na magkaroon ng TFI, despite the fact na hindi pa na-re-refund yung illegal TFI (CHEd CMO 14) na siningil sa mga estudyante last year (Private schools are set to propose another TFI despite the fact that they have not refunded yet the illegal TFI that they have collected from the students last academic year).”

High School students also joined the youth mobilization and protested against the National Career Assessment Examination (NCAE) which they were required to take last January 14.

According to Hiyas Garduce, Quirino High School junior, the government is deciding on their future careers. “Gusto nila (gobyerno) na sila na ang magpasaya sa mga career naming mga estudyante (The government wants to decide for our careers).”

“Ang pagtataguyod ng makabayan, siyentipiko at aka-masang edukasyon ay ating laban. Tayo ang mag-aangat n gating bansa (Upholding a nationalistic, scientific and mass-oriented education is our advocacy. We are the ones who will uplift our country).”

Vijae Alquisola, CEGP deputy secretary, said that they will stage more protests until the government acts on the education isues.

“Hawak ng mga kabataan and dahilan at yun ang magtutulak sa kanila hangat ginagawa ng administrasyong Arroyo at ng darating pang mga adinistrasyon ang pagtalikod sa karapatan ng mga estudyante (The youth has the reason and this will urge them as long as the Arroyo administration and the future administrations continue to neglect the rights of the students).”

Meanwhile, Catchin Bagangan, SCMP-PCU, said the youth want their education concerns to be heard.

“Ang nais ng mga kanataan ay maiparinig sa mga taong nakakasaksi ang mga issuesng edukasyon t lumkha ng dahilan o daan para mapansin ang kanilang mga concerns (The youth want to voice out the issues on education to the public, and to create a reason or a way to make others aware of their concerns).”

Although there is no TFI and campus repression in PCU, this should not stop the students from joining youth mobilizations.

“Utang natin yan (kalayaan) sa mga pagkilos na umiral noon at wag nating hintaying mawala muli yung kalayaan nay un (We owe this freedom to the mobilizations that was staged before, so we should not wait to lose that freedom again).”

Maanne Lopez, Adrian Chester Cecilio, Ma. Abigail Galino

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