Will Aquino freeze tuition hikes after death of CSU student?
MANILA, Philippines – For the second time under the Aquino administration, students from the University of the Philippines (UP) in Manila draped a black cloth over the iconic Oblation statue on Thursday, March 5. They denounced the death of Cagayan State University (CSU) student Rosanna Sanfuego, who took her life for allegedly failing to take her midterm examinations due to financial problems. (READ: CSU freshman with school fee problems commits suicide)
The first time UP Manila staged the symbolic protest was in 2013, when one of its students, Kristel Tejada, also took her life allegedly after failing to pay tuition.
Students from UP Diliman also covered the Oblation statue in their campus with black cloth to show solidarity. Polytechnic University of the Philippines students tied black ribbons around the posts in their campus. Meanwhile, students from Manila's university belt held a candle-lighting infront of the University of Santo Tomas to condemn the “unrelenting increases in tuition and other school fees.” Christopher Tejada, Kristel's father, also joined the activity.
Student protesters called down President Benigno Aquino III for his "indifference" to their plight. The League of Filipino Students (LFS) claimed the ‘deadly’ education deregulation policies of the government pave the way for the yearly tuition increases and imposition of other school fees. (READ: 'Students can't afford reimposition of CSU tuition fees')
“These (policies) strangle the youth’s access to education, forcing some of them to give up hope and take their own lives,” LFS chairperson Charisse Bañez said.
According to police, 16-year-old Sanfuego hanged herself at home in Abulug town in Cagayan. Hours before her body was found on February 25, she texted her brother about her problems – she was not able to take her exams, forcing her to quit school.
Dr Litamin Gonzales, who conducted the medico-legal examination, said depression may have been the probable cause of suicide. (READ: CSU freshman with school fee problems commits suicide)
'State abandonment of education'
According to Bañez, the death of the CSU freshman showed the “worst effect” of "state abandonment of education".
“Despite being enrolled in a state university, most students like Rosanna still can’t afford to continue their schooling because of the exorbitant and dubious other school fees,” Bañez said.
Most CSU students cannot afford the cost of other school fees – ranging from P2,000 ($45.37)* to P4,000 ($90.74), according to the National Union of Students of the Philippines and Kabataan Partylist. (READ: 'Students can’t afford reimposition of CSU tuition fees')
Students have recently taken to social media and the streets their protest against the possible increase of tuition and other school fees in at least 400 universities and colleges in the country for academic year 2015-2016.
LFS and other activist youth groups vowed to hold a National Day of Walkout against the impending hikes on March 13 – almost two years since Tejada’s death.
“Our fallen sisters, Kristel and Rosanna, fuel our fervor to march on for our right to education,” Bañez said.
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) is already looking into the incident. In an earlier statement, CHED said CSU has already extended "financial, spiritual, and moral support" to Sanfuego's family. The incident will be taken up as a priority agenda at the CSU board meeting on Friday, March 6. – Rappler.com