This youth mobilization was still part of the week-long series of events and demonstrations against the passing of the UP tuition increase. The mobilization as a whole, however, is a youth-wide rally against the government’s failure to stop unabated tuition hikes and the apparent state abandonment of the youth and education. There were contingents from various universities, colleges and high schools in Metro Manila. [View photos from the rally here].
We were supposed to march to Mendiola, but as expected, mercenaries were set up to block us and defend some fortress as if it was to be attacked.
Here’s a press release from Kabataan Party regarding today’s rally:
Students blame GMA over tuition hikes in UP, private schools
More college dropouts seen next semester
Students from the University of the Philippines (UP) and other state and private schools led by the Kabataan Partylist today stormed Mendiola to condemn the Arroyo government’s failure to stop unabated tuition hikes and the apparent state abandonment of the youth and education.
“The railroaded approval of the 300 percent tuition hike in UP and unabated increases in tuition and other fees in private schools presage a bad omen for the education sector that could trigger the worst education crisis in history,” Kabataan Partylist president Raymond Palatino said. “The disheartening stories of Julie Albior and Flores Biwang who were the topnotchers in the high school category of the National Achievement Test (NAT) last year remind us of the futility of government education programs. It also underscores the need to curb corruption in the government and misprioritization of the national budget.”
“Albior and Biwang represent the millions of poor but intelligent students who are forced to skip schooling because of rising cost of education and decreasing family incomes. They are the poignant examples of state abandonment of the youth and education.”
“With more preventive fees being charged both in private institutions and state schools, we fear that their numbers will double up this coming semester.”
Palatino put the blame on the Arroyo administration, saying current policies on education and government’s disregard allow private institutions to charge onerous and dubious fees on students and transform public schools to corporate entities. “Since 2001, the government encouraged the reduction of subsidies for public universities. This forced schools either to accept fewer students or to raise fees,” he said. “Parallel to annual cuts in state schools budgets, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) implemented a new tuition guideline in 2004 which allowed private schools to impose higher fees below the inflation rate without consulting the students,” he added.
Meanwhile, Palatino called on incumbent officials and aspiring politicians to translate their electoral agenda and promises to practice by supporting the students’ position for the UP Board of Regents to recall the approved tuition hike and impose a moratorium on tuition hikes this year to resolve hanging issues over the implementation of the new CHEd memorandum order no. 14 “This will be an opportunity for them to prove to us that they are really for the youth and they are running to defend and uphold the interest of young Filipinos, particularly for education.”