Baguio-Benguet youth rage on free education


BAGUIO CITY — Students and youth from various formations and organizations committed to advance the struggle for free and nationalist education in a series of activities headed by Kabataan Partylist Cordillera this week.

The youth-sectoral party’s regional chapter conducted discussions on the campaign for free public education in time for the approval at the committee level of the Universal Access to Tertiary Education Act last Monday, March 7.

Kabataan Partylist representative Sarah Elago expressed the need to strengthen youth organizations and forward the struggle for education and democratic rights during the Cordillera chapter’s Konsultahang Kabataan held last Saturday, March 4 at the University of the Philippines Baguio.

In a discussion on neoliberalism and education, Elago articulated the systemic problems confronting the Filipino youth and claimed that the sole decisive agent of genuine change is the collective and unwavering action of the pag-asa ng bayan.

While students from Benguet State University (BSU), Saint Louis University (SLU), and University of the Philippines Baguio (UPB) shared the situation of education in their respective colleges, the youth’s representative tackled the Lower House’s Universal Access to Tertiary Education Act and its lopsided provisions.

“As a response to the resounding demand for free education at all levels, this substitute bill runs counter to the people’s clamor as it seeks to institutionalize the corrupt socialized tuition system on a national scale and further profiteering of private institutions,” said Kabataan Partylist Cordillera spokesperson Julie Doroja.

Doroja pointed out that while the bill provides for free tuition and other fees in state universities and colleges (SUCs), the State Policy stipulated in the bill will promulgate a scheme similar to UP’s Socialized Tuition System (STS) by prioritizing access to public higher education for “the few and privileged”.

Furthermore, she said that the substitute bill’s provision on subsidizing a Student Loan Program (SLP) for private colleges and universities will undoubtedly be used to rake in millions and millions in profit.

“Given this, even the implementing rules and regulations on the P8.3-billion allocation for free tuition in SUCs next semester – which were crafted by the market-oriented Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) – are projected to follow a similar path,” said Doroja.

Caucuses held in UP, SLU

In line with the campaign for free and nationalist education, Kabataan Partylist Cordillera also held caucuses in SLU and UP.

Together with the Baguio-Benguet chapter of the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), the regional chapter spearheaded an educational discussion on the trends and prospects of tuition and other school fees in the Cordillera last March 3 at the SLU Supreme Student Council office in Baguio.

The youth group also joined the UPB Council of Leaders EdukFest during its opening forum on strengthening collective action for free and nationalist education last March 7 at the Alumni Center lobby in UPB.

“Now is a crucial time for us, students and youth, to give our highest commitment in advancing our right to free and nationalist education. With that, we must constantly examine our policies vis-à-vis the people’s objective condition and genuine interests, forge unities with the largest number of students and youth, and carry out concrete steps to effect the change we need. There is still a long way to go, we must never waiver,” Doroja concluded. #


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