BY ZOFIA LEAL
“Even as Filipinos now have reached the summit of Mt. Everest, the youth remained at the bottom under the administration of Arroyo. Education has become harder to reach and achieve,” says League of Filipino Students (LFS) High School chair Hiyas Garduce says of the Filipino youth’s current condition.
Reynaldo and Roy are from Sta. Cruz, Manila. Reynaldo is 17 years old and was able to finish high school. However, he will not be able to go to college this year. He was adopted by the barangay (village) chairman when he was younger. Nowadays, he is spending his time helping out his father.
Roy is also 17 years old. His mother works as a laundry maid while his father is unemployed. He was also able to finish high school but like Reynaldo, cannot go on to college. He is the one taking care of his siblings while their mother works.
Although they are both resolved on not going to college, they still the dream that they would be able continue their studies. If given the chance, Reynaldo would take up nursing with hopes of being able to work abroad. Roy is not yet decided on which course he would like to take up.
Roy’s mother wishes that she can send her son to school but her salary as a laundry maid is barely enough for the family’s daily needs.
Jobel is also from Sta. Cruz, Manila. Like Roy and Reynaldo, she was able to finish high school. Although Jobel says that she personally does not want to continue to college, she admits that it is because she sees no point in it. Not only do they have to pay for her tuition but life after college is just as tough, she says.
She would rather stay at home and help in their household chores so that her parents would not have to worry about paying her tuition, school needs and allowance.
Reynaldo and Roy are only two of the numerous youth that cannot afford to go to college.
This is because the budget for state universities and colleges is getting lower every year. In 2005, only P111.04 billion ($2.02 billion based on an average $1:P55.06 exchange rate for the said year) went to the Department of Education while debt servicing received P649.5 billion ($11,796,222,302). The state universities and colleges had to do with P16.85 billion ($306,029,785) with 31 SUCs that faced a budget cut. This year, only P119.1 billion ($2.27 billion based on a $1:P52.53 as of May 26, 2006) is proposed for the Department of Education. Meanwhile, private Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) keep on increasing their tuition with 458 or 32 percent of the total 1,465 private HEIs that applied for tuition hike this year.
Last May 22, about 100 students picketed the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to call for the scrapping of CHED Memorandum No. 14 that institutionalizes tuition fee increase. After CHED, students marched to the Department of Education to call for an end to compulsory contributions and higher budget for education.
National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP) president Marco de los Reyes said that aside from these issues that cause the youth’s inability to continue school, this year, more than 160,000 students may not be able to pursue their studies because of the crash of pre need firms.
Marian is a member of the College Assurance Plan (CAP), but due to its declaration of bankruptcy, she cannot continue her studies. The insurance plan is her only way to pay for the high tuition rates of her university. She is expected to be graduating this year but is forced to temporarily stop. She is currently looking for a job so that she can enroll in the second semester.
The youth nowadays are not just thinking about finishing their studies so that they can graduate and find jobs that can help their families. They are already looking for jobs so that they can help in the family expenses and if ever they have saved enough, to help them in pursuing an educational degree.
The situation of the youth today as League of Filipino Students (LFS) High School chair Hiyas Garduce explained is:
“Even as Filipinos now have reached the summit of Mt. Everest, the youth remained at the bottom under the administration of Arroyo. Education has become harder to reach and achieve.” (Bulatlat.com)