By OLGA LAUZON
BAGUIO CITY — As part of the celebration of the 34th People’s Cordillera Day, youth and students from various parts of the region gathered for the Cordilleran Youth Summit to discuss the sector’s pressing issues and come up with an agenda to be passed to the legislative.
The summit, organized by the Cordilleran Youth Center, Progressive Igorots for Genuine Social Action and BIBAK Federation, held a discussion and consultation of the current situation of Cordillera youth. The Cordillera Youth Agenda that is later crafted based on the demands and concerns raised in the consultation will be forwarded to the region’s policy making bodies and eventually to lawmakers at the national level.
The agenda consists of recommendations on issues such as education, democratic and human rights violations, state tyranny and fascism, and indigenous culture and heritage.
One of the key points raised in the summit is the implementation of the free tuition policy, now legalized as the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act. The implementing rules and regulations was discussed and how different state universities and colleges in the region are executing it. It was raised that in Kalinga, Mt. Province, and Ifugao, the free tuition service is limited to slots and students who wish to avail of it are under a first come first serve basis. They were also required to pass documents such as police and NBI clearance and their parents’ certificate of indigency. There was also a reported case of a school requiring a mandatory drug test on their students before they can apply for free tuition. The agenda also seeks a refund on the fees collected on academic year 2017-2018 as there was a budget allotted to the transitory period of the free tuition policy on that said year.
Another concern is the proposed moratorium on tuition and other school fees in private higher educational institutions (PHEIs). According to the data gathered by Kabataan Partylist Cordillera, PHEIs especially in Baguio City, have unregulated yearly increases in their collectibles that are not sanctioned by the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) even if the said increase was not duly consulted to stakeholders. The increase in fees is also said to be left uninvestigated whether the collections go to the improvement of facilities and pay raise of employees.
There is also a call to end all forms of fascist attacks and oppose the administration’s supposed tyrannical rule. The agenda calls to sanction all human rights violations by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police against the youth and the people and to pull out military troops in the countryside especially in areas with regards to exploration projects and other multinational-sponsored initiatives.
As for the nurturing of indigenous knowledge, culture, and heritage, the agenda recommends that positive indigenous knowledge be included in school curriculums from primary to tertiary level. It is suggested that indigenous communities be consulted for culturally appropriate teaching methods to be applied. The agenda seeks for a review of the Department of Education’s National Indigenous Peoples Education Policy Framework and Indigenous Peoples Education Curriculum Framework. # nordis.net