The Youth for Nationalism and Democracy (YND), grieves upon the tragic end of Kristel Tejada, a promising Behavioral Science freshman of the University of the Philippines-Manila (UPM). YND stands in unity with Kristel, whose demise was caused by the blatant abandonment of state’s responsibility of providing quality, free and accessible education to the Filipino youth and students.
Kristel is born the eldest among five siblings. A daughter of a taxi driver and a housewife, she is just like other youths whose only dream is to uplift the quality of her family’s life through education. To attain her dream, she entered the University of the Philippines (UP), the country’s premier state-run higher education institution.
Because her family lacks the capability to support her college studies, she entered UP under its Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP) under Bracket “D”, where she pays PHP 300.00 per unit, with other miscellaneous fees amounting to more or less PHP 2,000.00. In total, she pays PHP 7,500.00 for every semester, which was still somehow a financial burden to her and her family.
There was an increase of tuition fees at the start of the second semester of this school year, which resulted to her not being able to pay it in full. She applied for a student loan to ease the burden, but was denied. With the financial accountabilities not settled yet, she was forced by the UP Manila administration to take a leave of absence, which caused her to become depressed and eventually take her own life.
The STFAP scheme was first implemented by UP in 2007 amidst the continuous diminishing state subsidies to the State Universities and Colleges. Also, the unstoppable increase of tuition and other fees of private institutions caused a mass exodus of transferees from the private institutions to the SUC’s, making the student population of SUC’s less homogenous in terms of economic capability.
What has been happening to the UP System is a reflection of what the reality is in the Philippine education, which is further worsened by the state’s neoliberal policies where education ceases to be a social service, and is now considered a commodity for profit. With the present realities, what has happened to Kristel is not only confined to her alone, but of the millions of Filipino students who are consistently under threat of being deprived of their right to quality education.
We at YND together with the masses of the Filipino youth and students demand justice for what has happened to Kristel and we demand culpability for those who are responsible for neglecting the welfare of the youth. The right to quality, free and accessible education must be enjoyed by all, most especially by the poor and underprivileged.
But it is not sufficient that education is a right enjoyed by all, furthermore it should be Nationalist, Scientific and Mass Oriented, which would serve the needs of the people and not of the profiteering few. Only then can all universities and colleges would be able to hone the total development of the youth as a human person, which would ultimately contribute to national development and progress.
NO TO STATE ABANDONMENT OF THE EDUCATION SECTOR!
GREATER STATE RESPONSIBILITY TO SOCIAL SERVICES!
EDUCATION IS A RIGHT, NOT A PRIVILEGE!
NO TO COMMERCIALIZATION OF EDUCATION!
STRUGGLE FOR A NATIONALIST, SCIENTIFIC AND MASS-ORIENTED EDUCATION SYSTEM!