By ALELI MADRIGAL
MANILA – Youth and students across the country marked the International Students’ Day with protests last Friday, Nov. 17. They highlighted their calls not only for the education sector but also the calls of different marginalized sectors.
At the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), youth groups reiterated their calls on junking Senate Bill No. 2448 or the National Polytechnic University (NPU) Bill, increasing the budget for state universities and colleges, giving academic and youth organizations their office spaces, and freeing the academic community from military and police presence.
National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates (NNARA) Youth-PUP secretary general Kylie Lagumen said it is important for students to participate in such protests as they are experiencing the same struggles and repression.
“We are the same people who see and understand our struggles, like the manifestation of budget cuts, so we should only make a call on it as we have the ability and capacity to do so,” Lagumen said.
The Kabataan Para sa Tribung Pilipino (KATRIBU)-PUP deputy secretary general Shane Austria shared the same sentiments.
Kabataan Party-list Representative Raoul Manuel stressed that the “role of the students in taking a stand is crucial, especially nowadays that the [Ferdinand] Marcos Jr. administration only wants the youth to obey the authority without questioning it.”
“They no longer teach us how to be critical,” Manuel said.
“The more repression is shoved onto us, the more we persist in resisting and pushing the alternative which is a nationalistic, scientific, and mass-oriented type of education,” Manuel added.
The Kabataan Party-list representative also reiterated the importance of extending one’s study from the classroom out to society. “It is a challenge to us to improve our study and participate in making real changes in our nation.”
The International Students’ Day is originally observed to commemorate the lives of 1,200 students from University of Prague who were killed during World War II. At present, it is conducted to celebrate international students as well as raise calls of the students on various pressing issues especially in the education sector.
“Whether it is International Students’ Day or not, the youth must know, every student must know how to uphold their rights,” said Sandigan ng Mag-aaral para sa Sambayanan PUP Chairperson Ronjay Mendiola. (AMU, RTS)