Youth groups protest tuition hike after Bicol student’s suicide
Militant youth groups on Friday condemned the increase in tuition and other school fees under the Aquino administration as the culprit behind the death of a senior student in Bicol.
Kabataan party-list second nominee Romina Astudillo said Jessiven Lagatic, a fourth year student at Central Bicol State University of Agriculture, committed suicide on Thursday, Feb. 11, “because his scholarship was removed.”
“He committed suicide after losing his scholarship and was forced to pay his school fees amounting to P7,000. Apart from this, he was embattled with the daily expenses in order to go to school which hindered him to attend classes and take exams,” Astudillo told INQUIRER.net.
Youth group Anakbayan also attributed the suicide as a “consequence of the soaring cost of education” in the country, saying it was no different from the cases of Kristel Tejada of University of the Philippines-Manila and Rosanna Sanfuego of Cagayan State University.
“One more student has been pushed to take his own life out of desperation. How many more will we allow to be killed by a highly commercialized education system that sacrifices the youth’s future on the altar of profit?” said Anakbayan national chair Vencer Crisostomo in a statement.
“Under Aquino, tuition rates have doubled from P30,000-50,000 to P60,000-100,000 annually. The deregulated environment for education has only favored big business profits. Kawawa ang mga estudyante at kanilang magulang, lalo na ang mga manggagawa at magsasaka,” he added.
Lagatic’s death came almost three years after Tejada took her own life in March 2013 over the “no late payment policy” of UP Manila.
Astudillo expressed sympathies to Lagatic’s family, citing their son opted to take agriculture instead of “taking up a course that is needed by the market.”
“State abandonment created such slave education where Filipino youths are hanging by a thread to enter school due to skyrocketing tuition and other school fees with a nil possibility of finishing college,” Astudillo said in a statement.
“It is a system that aims to produce docile youths who will be slaves to profit-reeking corporations from cheap labor and rampant contractualization,” she added.
Following Lagatic’s death, youth protesters all over the country staged mass actions against increasing tuition rates. In UP Manila, students began their “Black Valentine” protests along Padre Faura, while in UP Diliman, protesters massed up at Palma Hall on campus, and in Polytechnic University of the Philippines groups gathered in Sta. Mesa around noon today.
Anakbayan said students and youth groups were expected to conduct campus walkouts on Feb. 24 and March 11, noting that an independent monitoring by the group showed that over 400 higher educational institutions in the country would increase tuition and other school fees next year. RC
If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Center for Mental Health hotline at 0917-899-USAP (8727); (02) 7-989-USAP; or 1553 (landline to landline, toll-free).
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