The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) condoles with the family and friends of 16-year old Kristel Tejada who committed suicide last Friday after she was forced by the University of the Philippines (UP) to go on a leave of absence upon failing to promptly pay her tuition and other financial obligations. Kristel comes from a working class family living on the brink of poverty.
Her father, a part-time taxi driver, earns just enough for the daily needs of their family of seven. Her mother is unemployed. Under the so-called socialized tuition scheme of the University of the Philippines, Kristel was categorized under Bracket D where she had to pay P300 per unit of tuition fee or up to P7,500 per semester. With no way of paying her P10,000-debt, she knew she had no recourse but to end her university education. Kristel’s suicide is a tragic consequence of the grave difficulties that the commercialized state of Philippine education has wrought on the Filipino youth.
Everyday, millions of Filipino youth like her confront the spiralling costs of education and are forced to either stop schooling or find unemployment in a job-scarce economy. The educational system in the Philippines continues to become increasingly inaccessible as the reactionary government has allowed big business all-out freedom to generate maximum profits by increasing tuition rates and imposing one fee after another. Following the state policy of abandoning education and allowing all-out commercialization, education in the Philippines, for the most part, has been reduced to a big business operation. Kristel’s tragedy further exposes the deceit behind the “socialized” tuition scheme implemented in the University of the Philippines.
It purportedly aims to provide equal opportunities to students from lower economic sectors but has achieved nothing of the kind. Its real objective is to generate enough profits to sustain the university in the face of the national government’s policy to cut down on allocations for state universities and colleges. It serves only as a smokescreen for increasing tuition rates in the UP. In implementing the “socialized” tuition scheme to maximize profits, UP is biased against the lower economic classes.
Driven by profit maximization, the UP administration imposes one difficult policy after another against students in dire financial straits, driving more and more children of the working class away from the university. The despair that drove Kristel to suicide can only be fully understood from the context of the grave difficulties confronting her and the rest of the Filipino youth. By comprehending the profundity of her death, Kristel’s fellow youth and the rest of the Filipino people are obliged to demand justice and act against the Aquino regime’s policy of abandoning education and allowing its all-out commercialization.
March 17, 2013 Communist Party of the Philippines