Manila, Sept.17-21: Student Strike against Commercialisation of Education

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Manila, Sept.17-21:
Student Strike
against Commercialisation of Education

In the struggle against (tuition) fees as well as the increasing commercialisation of education in general students at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), in the capital Manila, decided to shut down the institution for a week (Sept.17-21).
Activities during the strike are also directed against 40 years of martial law. Although there's currently no legal declaration of a state of martial law, military tactics and operations frequently include measures such as forced disappearances, warrantless arrests and extra-judicial executions, especially in areas outside cities. Nowadays most of the victims of such military operations are farmers, tribal leaders, and environmentalists who oppose the operations of mining companies in their villages.

On Tuesday a huge flashmob was organised on the PUP campus.

Students at the University of the Philippines (UP), also in Manila, joined the strike for a day on Wednesday. And also at other colleges and universities people arranged protest activities in solidarity, but also to connect to the struggle.

The week of action will reach its peak on Friday (Sept.21), which will see a mass mobilisation for a protest rally in Mendiola Street.The following unity statement among students at UP Diliman Kilos Na, UP Manila Kilos Na, and UPLB Stop TOFI Alliance was released in connection with the strike:

We, students of the University of the Philippines, in behalf of the Filipino youth, resolutely stand against the high cost of UP education worsened by the deceptive tuition and other fees increase in the University.

  • We stand against the implementation of Bracket B certification (and other pertaining documents) which effectively raised the base tuition of UP from P1,000 to P1,500 per unit. Such one-sided implementation was done in an illegal and undemocratic manner manifested by the absence of prior student consultation and participation.

Its implementation is an utter disregard of the interest of the students and the Filipino youth to make UP education more accessible and to roll back the tuition since the illegal and undemocratic approval of the 300% tuition hike in 2006.

  • We rise against the deception of Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP) as an inconspicuous means to raise the fees in the University. Our experiences with STFAP prove that it facilitates the increase of the University’s profit from tuition and other fees instead of the accessibility of its education.

With STFAP, the right of students and the youth to education is always at risk as its serves as a smokescreen for tuition increases. It aims to divide the studentry from uniting under the banner of “education for all.”

  • We stand against the unjust, undemocratic and railroaded approval of the Physical Education (PE) Laboratory Fees. We are one with the various colleges and departments which offer Physical Education courses in calling the attention of the UP administration and the national government with regard to the worsening state of sports facilities and programs in the campuses. We resolutely assert the decisive and immediate construction of a gymnasium in UP Manila and other campuses to provide accessible and secure sports facilities for students.

And yet, we are against all means to pass on to the students the burden that should have been shouldered by the national government.

  • We condemn in the strongest possible terms the deceptive 2013 budget that ushers the speedy commercialization of State Universities and Colleges, including UP. Masquerading as a 40% increase in UP’s budget, the increase in 2013 budget is not geared towards allowing more students to access UP education but rather prepare UP and other SUCs in the gradual abandonment of the government’s responsibility. This is consistent with the anti-people, anti-youth Roadmap for Public Higher Education Reform of President Aquino.
  • We register our opposition to the Roadmap for Public Higher Education Reform (RPHER), a program to reduce the number of SUCs with government support, “phase out inefficient and duplicative” courses already offered by private universities and close courses that are “inefficient” and “outside the mandate” of certain SUCs, and fund them based on performance. This in turn fosters SUCs to employ income-generating schemes, which includes the nationwide implementation of STFAP that further raises the fees paid by students.

RPHER promotes the worsening inaccessibility of education among the Filipino youth and is reflective of the motivation of the Aquino government to push further a colonial, commercialized, fascist education that serves no other than the interest of its foreign multi-national and transnational masters.

We call on our fellow UP students who firmly believe in the inalienable right to education of the Filipino youth to collectively and resolutely stand. Our history taught us to never defer nor falter in the face of grave violations and injustices.

The Board of Regents (BOR) meeting on September 20 will decide the fate of the iskolar ng bayan in the coming semesters. It will be a decisive day for the iskolar ng bayan to link arms with the casual and contractual workers in the University in their just demand for regularization. It will also be the day when we shall stand for the poor Filipino people against the implementation of hospital fees for class D patients in the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) who we firmly believe must be afforded with the right to quality health services.

September 20 will mark in UP’s history. It will determine whether the University will once again take its step towards further disenfranchisement of the Filipino people or towards its mandate of being the University of the People.

On September 20, let us unite together as students of the UP system in behalf of the Filipino people, and mobilize with all our energy and utmost militancy to strike out tuition, PE, and laboratory fee hikes in UP. We shall stand in front of Quezon Hall; barricade it if necessary, carrying our calls for our right to education and basic social services, determined to stop any violation of people’s rights and to condemn the policy espoused by the national government that worsens the education crisis.

Note of the author: Although I reject the nationalist undertone of the statement, I believe it contains valid points and can help to widen the understanding of the global nature of the struggle. Therefore I decided to publish it on the ISM website.

September 20:
Students from UP confronted Board of Regents/CHED Chair Licuanan and demanded an explanation of the implementation of tuition fee increases:

Feel free to send any updates on the week of action to united.for.education@gmail.com - so they can be published here.

Some pictures of the week of action: