Quality and accessible education is a right enshrined in our country’s Constitution, and in the long history of the University of the Philippines as the country’s premier tertiary state institution and as the University of the People. However, with the implementation of restrictive policies by the UP administration, the way is paved for the further deprivation of the masses of their right to UP education.
In the memorandum released by the OVCAA addressed to all faculty members last October, it was stated that “Students have to present proof that they are duly matriculated before being allowed to attend classes…All students are expected to be matriculated during the prescribed period. Late payments will not be allowed.” It also stated that those who are experiencing financial difficulties are advised to avail of assistance like loans and scholarships. After haggling for extension during a consultation with college Student Councils, the administration set November 23 to be the deadline of payment of tuition in UP Manila – after which the memorandum shall strictly apply, barring the students who failed to pay their tuition on time from attending their classes.
We are alarmed that the general direction of the administration for the university is to push it towards commercialization. The recent tuition increase in UP under the guise of changing mechanisms of the STFAP, and the STFAP scheme itself which classifies students according their capacity to pay and is essentially putting a “price tag” to education is all under the banner of the Roadmap to Public Higher Education Reform (RPHER) program of the Aquino government which seeks to push SUCs into generating their own income, in order that by 2016, according to CHED, only 50% of SUCs budget will be subsidized by the state, the other half should come from tuition fees, land leases and other income generating schemes of the SUCs.
We believe that the absolute imposition of deadline for paying tuition without further consideration does not promote responsibility among the students, but only robs the students of their right to education. This policy fails to address the real problems as to paying the expensive tuition in UP and only seeks to support and further the crisis of the education sector. This “No tuition, No education” memorandum is a serious threat to our right to education.
We call on to the UPM administration to repeal this memo and to protect the public character of UP and employ all means to make UP education accessible to the masses. We assert that the government must prioritize education and social services and to uphold its mandate of providing quality and accessible education at all levels. We uphold that education is a right and is not a commodity, and should therefore be attained by everyone, regardless of capacity to pay and social status.
It is in this united resolve that we, the undersigned officials and individuals from offices, student organizations and formations, faculty, research and extension personnel, administrative personnel, unions, and other formations declare our support for the campaign to end repressive policies and oppose the commercialization of education.
The UP community will not stand for yet another attack on our right to education. Recognizing the power of collective action, we are prepared to fight for our democratic rights and once again stand up for our right to education