By SHARLYN VIVO
MANILA – Student rights defender, transwoman, and scientist Jandeil Roperos has accepted the challenge as the third nominee of Kabataan Partylist in order to amplify the call for free and accessible education for all.
Ropero experienced first-hand the impact of budget cuts to state universities and colleges, and this gave her the motivation to pursue the path of a progressive student leader.
“As I joined protests against the budget cut, I realized that what we are campaigning for is just right. Eventually, I attended educational discussions to learn about societal issues and this helped me as a militant leader,” she told Bulatlat.
Roperos knew she could not afford to focus only on the issues of the youth sector and immersed herself in different sectors around the country. Roperos said that there are hardly any college students in deprived communities.
“With those basic mass integrations, I became very firm with my stand. I pursued organizing in National Union of Students in the Philippines and now, as the third nominee of Kabataan Partylist to advance and uphold the right to education,” she said.
As a student rights defender
Growing up, Roperos has always been passionate about the right to education. She would help her cousins with English, Math, and Science lessons whenever they had difficulties.
From 2017 to 2018, she became the chairperson of the College of Art and Sciences at the University of the Philippines – Visayas (UPV). She’s a graduate of BS Biology and currently taking up her master’s in Biology at the University of the Philippines – Diliman (UPD).
Over the years, Roperos is actively defending the right to education as president of the NUSP, convenor of Rise for Education (R4E), convenor of Student Ayuda Network (SAN), and convenor of Movement for Safe, Equitable, Quality, and Relevant Education (SEQuRe).
“Building alliances have helped to broaden the unity of different youth formations in championing our demands, specifically the ligtas balik-eskwela, and to enjoy our rights,” she added.
Roperos voiced that accessible and quality education is directly supporting a liberating education to end discrimination of women and the LGBTQ community.
Advocate for LGBTQ Rights
Roperos as a transwoman herself firmly fights for a liberating education where women and members of the LGBTQIA will no longer experience discrimination based on their gender and socio-economic status.
“If you believe that education is a right, then we should forward for a liberating education that is mass-oriented. As per our constitution, it should be fulfilled regardless of the student’s political beliefs, religion, gender, and socio-economic status,” Roperos told Bulatlat.
Witnessing how the backward beliefs repressed women and members of LGBTQIA in expressing themselves inside the campuses firmed up her decision to repeal these anti-student policies.
“There are still policies inside the campuses that are not grounded on material conditions and tend to repress the right to express. For instance, prohibiting cross-dressing and hair color that does not even affect the quality of education,” she said.
The discrimination must be put to an end. To secure safe spaces, Roperos asserted that the youth must struggle for humane and pro-student policies.
Filipino youth for humane and liberating education
Amid the pandemic, the inhumane and anti-student distance learning imposed by the government forced over four million student out of schools, according to the Department of Education (DepEd).
Roperos expressed her sympathy with the Filipino youth as victims of commercialized education system in the country.
“We are defenders and we are right to feel tired. But then, the important thing is not to quit. Take a rest and struggle forward because we are not alone, we are with the million Filipinos struggling for justice and freedom,” she said.
Reminding the youth that to achieve the immediate campaign for a safe and gradual reopening of physical classes, Roperos notes that they shall continuously extend their efforts to expose the criminal negligence of the government in handling the health crisis.