Justice for Kristel Tejada: YND Underscores Commercialized Education

Neo liberal policies of educationQuezon City– “It’s a Black Friday before Good Friday”.

Amidst a grieving air, Youth for Nationalism and Democracy (YND) enjoins students and out-of-school-youth to join a solidarity protest march on Friday, March 22 and wear black shirts. This is in continued protest to the intensified policies on commercialization of education that was put in lime light by the tragic end of Kristel Tejada a 16 year old freshman student of the University of the Philippines-Manila.

Article XIV, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution declares that the state shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels, and shall take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all.

Tip of the Iceberg

Batas Pambansa Bilang 232 “Education Act of 1982”,paved the way for the implementation of the neo-liberal policies in the education sector. Long Term Higher Educational Development Plan (LTHEDP) under the Medium Term Development Program of the IMF-WB (International Monetary Fund-World Bank) implemented in GMAs time and continued under P.Noys government targets the following: a. reduce by 20% the number of SUC’s b. convert six SUCs to semi corporations c. 50% SUCs must establish active income generating projects d. pegs tuition rates in 70% SUCs similar to private universities and 60% of SUCs must collaborate with big businesses.

UP’s “no late payment policy and the further rigidities of STFAP that begun in 1987 is only the tip of the iceberg. Despite of massive budget cuts; UP under the “zero-based budgeting” approach where a previous year’s assumptions are scrapped and an agency or SUC has to justify its expenditure received a meagre 5.54 Billion out of an 18.4 Billion budget proposal in 2012.

In 2007, UP implemented a 300% tuition fee increase immediately delimiting the number of poor enrolees. According to studies 30% of the 9,000 UPCAT-NCR passers never showed up for enrolment due to financial incapacity. The STFAP bracket system also affected UP’s student population reverting the 80% poor in 1975 to a current composition of 80% middle class and elite.

Clearly, this U.S. formulated antidotes diluted the states’ role and handed over in large chunks education to the private sector.

There is Kristel in all of us.

Statistics from the National Statistics Office (NSO) shows that among the 39 Million 6 to 24 years old Filipinos, 6.24 Million are considered as out of school youth, 32.9 percent of OSY were prevented from studying by the high cost of education.

11.1 Million Filipino households consider themselves poor; in Mindanao survey pegs at 72 percent and 61 percent in Visayas as estimate of families living below the poverty line is at 32.9%. Meanwhile unemployment is 6.8% while cost of living according to NEDA is not less than Php 900.00.

Tejada’s case is not isolated. Among the hearts of the many underprivileged youth lays a dream to break the cycle of poverty though studies. The University of the Philippines is the states’ premier university whose mandate is to provide education to poor but deserving students, Tejada’s death tells us otherwise. In a hard way we learnt the cold and ruthless system of Philippine education. YND calls on the Filipino youth and the people to not put in waste the life of Kristel Tejada. She may have gone but let her life be a spark that could start a prairie of fire.

In a nut shell it created the avenue to put forward a pro-people, pro-student alternative in education.

Justice for Kristel Tejada!
Remove the STFAP bracket system!
Repeal the Admissions Process of UP System, Prioritize the Poor!
Do Away with the Neo-liberal Policies of globalization!
Push for a Scientific, Mass-oriented and Nationalist Education System!

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