Quality education is a right; it is a right enshrined in our country’s Constitution, and in the long history of the University of the Philippines as the country’s premier tertiary state institution.
Yet, deepening poverty coupled with the rising cost of education in our country pushed 73% of the youth to drop-out of school last year, per data from the Department of Education. Of those enrolled as freshmen in college, almost 83% will not be able to graduate. The same statistics peg that 7.93 million children 6-15 years of age do not even stand a chance to enter elementary or high school.
This persistent crisis is caused, fostered, and exacerbated by inadequate government spending on education at all levels. It has resulted in poor facilities, low faculty salary, contractualization of employees, and lack of basic student services in public schools. Even worse, the continuing lack of state subsidy has forced university administrations to resort to measures such as tuition hikes, socialized tuition, imposition of new fees, and other ways to generate funds.
The crisis will get worse as the tertiary education budget is systematically and continually reduced despite the present fund deficiencies. President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III announced in his 2011 budget message, “We are gradually reducing the subsidy to [state colleges and universities] to push them toward becoming self-sufficient and financially independent, given their ability to raise their income and to utilize it for their programs and projects.”
Amidst the low wages of the Filipino workers and the skyrocketing prices of basic goods and services, it is high time to ensure that fundamental education does not become further backbreaking burden to the ordinary Filipino. We are alarmed that state support for education under President Aquino is diminishing in measures, and deteriorating in quality.
We assert that the government must fulfill its responsibility of putting education and basic social services as its utmost priority. We demand that government must commit and timely release funds to the education sector – to the Department of Education and to state colleges and universities, including the University of the Philippines.
It is in this united resolve that we, the undersigned officials, offices, student organizations, and formations, declare our support in the campaign to end education crisis and to fight for greater state subsidy.
We urge the whole UP community to once again decisively stand for our right to education. We are resolute that only through greater and adequate state support that education can truly be democratic and mass-oriented.
Collectively, let us push for greater state subsidy for education and basic social services. Let us demonstrate our firm resolve and position as one UP community by participating in three major mobilizations.
On July 14, we shall march as one UP community to declare our unity for greater state subsidy.
On July 19, we shall unite with other UP units, state colleges and universities, private schools, and the rest of the Filipino youth in calling for solutions to the education crisis and ensure genuine democratic access to education.
On July 25, let us march with the different sectors of our society in the declaration of the real state of the nation and the call for genuine social change.