Youth Groups Challenge Noynoy to be an ‘Education President’

Campus press freedom violations have been documented under Arroyo’s presidency. In 2009 alone, the CEGP documented over 204 cases.

Among the cases that were reported is the non-collection of the publication fee and withholding of funds. Under the Campus Journalism Act of 1991, the collection of publication fee is not mandatory.

Members of The Catalyst, the official student paper of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in Manila have to manually collect donations from students since their school administration has stopped collecting the publication fee during enrollment.

Same is true for West Negros University, a private school in Bacolod, Negros Occidental. Its student paper, Wesneco Torch has been in conflict with the school administration because of the freedom wall section, where students post their comments and criticisms on school policies. Members of the editorial board were not given their publication fee in 2009, forcing them to put up a blog where they posted their articles. In September 2009, the school administration learned about the blog and suspended the members of the editorial board.

“When students are suffering in a repressive condition, how could they become agents of change?” Trina Federis, CEGP national president, said.

“They are repressed because they report about increases in the tuition and miscellaneous fees, and other school decisions that affect students,” Federis told Bulatlat. “The publication has a big role in becoming the voice of students in a big institution that does not seem to prioritize the welfare of the students.”

The youth groups are calling for student representation in the policy-making bodies of colleges and universities. They are also demanding from school officials respect for academic freedom and have been denouncing the vilification and psy-war operations conducted by military and police deployed in their schools.

The youth group urged Aquino to improve the teachers’ welfare and to prioritize science, research and technology development in school curriculums. They have also demanded that Aquino should promote transparency and sanction corruption cases in the education sector.

Kabataan Party List also urges the Aquino administration to promote a nationalist curriculum that adopts Filipino and vernacular language as the medium of instruction, making History and Human Rights Education mandatory, strengthening community service courses at all levels, ensuring that vocational/technical education match the actual needs of the local economy and reforming medical and nursing education to meet community health needs.

Lastly, Aquino is being asked to repeal existing policies and laws that are against the interest of the students such as the Education Act of 1982 and Campus Journalism Act of 1991, to revamp the policy of reducing the budget of state universities and colleges, and to review and strengthen the regulatory powers of the Commission on Higher Education and the Department of Education.

“It is not enough that Aquino projects himself as an agent of change,” Recedes said, “We want concrete action.” (Bulatlat.com)

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