MANILA, Philippines—Suggestions on how to help impoverished students are pouring in amid the outrage sparked by the death of a UP Manila freshman, who committed suicide after she filed a leave of absence for failure to pay tuition.
Party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna of the Citizens Battle Against Corruption said authorities could put into place a student loan system similar to one practiced in the United States.
In the US, students could avail themselves of financial assistance for their college education and repay the loan when they become employed.
Tugna said he was already studying whether such a student loan system could be implemented in the Philippines.
“It’s sad that something like this had to happen before we train the spotlight on this issue and really start discussing the mechanisms that are in place regarding the education system of our country. The effects of this regrettable incident would ripple across, not just in the other campuses of UP, but also in the other educational institutions that provide assistance to their students,” Tugna said in a statement.
Kristel Tejada, a 16-year-old Behavioral Sciences freshman, drank a silver cleaning solution at her residence in Tayuman, Manila on Friday after she was allegedly forced to file a leave of absence in the middle of her second semester at the state-run university for failure to pay tuition. Her family has been purportedly having financial difficulties.
According to Tugna, the death of Tejada only reflects the government’s neglect of the education system.
“We may be angry at the administration of UP now and blame them for what happened but ultimately, the core of this problem is rooted in a government and a system mired in graft and corruption,” he said.
For years, students of state universities and colleges (SUCs) have been protesting what they deemed was the inadequate budget allocated for their schools, but administration officials have countered that the budgets for these institutions have been increased.
Other politicians gunning for national posts in the May midterm elections have also weighed in on the issue.
Senatorial candidate Ernesto Maceda said education in state colleges and universities must be tuition-free, and also believes the government should sponsor more scholarships for poor children in private schools.
San Juan Rep. Joseph Victor Ejercito believes schools that deny entry to students who could not afford the tuition must be penalized, and said this is why he had pushed for his magna carta for students when congress was in session.
Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño on Monday filed a resolution calling for a congressional probe into tuition policies of SUCs.
Casiño also said the administration should order these institutions to review their policies on tuition, loan grants, and payment schemes.
“While SUCs are granted relative autonomy, government should have a set of minimum guidelines prioritizing the right of students to education over the generation of revenues,” he said.