UP tuition hike causes big drop in freshman enrolment; Kabataan loses due to votepadding

Two things I like most about young bloggers are their eloquence and militancy.

Here’s Bikoy‘s take on the 300 percent tuition fee increase implemented by the University of the Philippines:

Last December, the Board of Regents of the University of the Philippines approved the tuition increase that raised the standard tuition per unit from P300 to as much as P1,500 for incoming freshmen.

Months later at the beginning of a new academic year, only less than half of UPCAT (UP College Admission Test) passers showed up to enroll in the different UP units. In Los Banos and Mindanao, less than 17% of passers enrolled. In Diliman, the entire College of Social Work and Community Development has one freshman. In courses like BA Malikhaing Pagsulat, BA Araling Pilipino, and BA Filipino, none of the passers showed up to enroll. Thousands of the country’s best and brightest students as assessed by the UPCAT didn’t pursue their dreams of affordable college education in the country’s premiere state university for it has indeed become increasingly expensive, commercial and prohibitive. Can UP still claim to be the home of the country’s best and brightest?

As of a few weeks before the beginning of classes, only 5% of incoming freshmen were able to avail of full scholarship. The rest, including those who are applying for lower tuition had to pay the full amount while they wait without assurance of refunds. Some families had to resort to selling their valuables and engage in loans to be able to send their children to UP. And these stories are not made up. Freshmen have come up to share their stories. In a mobilization this morning, we had a handful of freshmen who haven’t even joined rallies before, who spoke up and shared their struggles.

To appease those who did enroll, the administration, in efforts to appear caring to the freshmen it has burdened with increased tuition, admitted them into the university’s insufficient dormitories–even those reserved for graduate students–displacing hundreds of upperclassmen.

These problems are not confined to UP. In Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Science & Technology, a public college, students face a staggering 600% increase in tuition. I don’t understand why some people insist that it is not the government’s policy to gradually abandon its funding for tertiary education institutions. And that it does not force them to generate their funds from their own scholars themselves.

Yesterday, I joined some of my brods in the Upsilon in a courtesy call with UP President Emerlinda Roman. Courtesies, chicken sandwich and other pleasantries aside, I finally heard from her own lips a fact we’ve always claimed–that it is indeed the UP administration’s increasing objective to generate its own income. As prescribed by our national government. As prescribed by foreign financial institutions. And has now manifested even more.

I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate Kabataan Partylist for its strong showing in the 2007 elections. Kabataan saw its votes rise from 213,068 in 2004 to 220,119 according to the latest canvass report from the Comelec.

Unfortunately, even this higher vote is not enough to constitute a mandate to obtain a seat in Congress — not unless we are successful in disqualifying Arroyo administration-instigated partylists and foiling the massive vote-padding in favor of them in the municipal and provincial canvassing.

Task Force Poll Watch estimates the total votes padded for pro-Arroyo partylists are at least 2,000,000. I think, its more to the tune of three to four million. Had this been prevented, Mong Palatino would have taken his oath as the first elected youth representative in Congress.

Moreover, Kabataan also ran against a really vile defamation campaign by the military, which resulted in the extrajudicial slays of youth leaders.

It is really unfortunate that the Arroyo government prevented Kabataan and consequently the youth sector from having congressional representation. Kabataan would have been an excellent addition to the House roster, bringing fresh and progressive views into Congress.

Problems, such as the TFI in UP, would have been placed high on the national political agenda courtesy of Kabataan partylist representation. Ditto for employment, entrepreneurship, equity, environment and other youth concerns.

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