CEGP Baguio-Benguet is one with the family, friends and sympathizers of Kristel Tejada, the Behavioral Science student from UP Manila who ended her life because of her family’s inability to pay for her tuition fees, in lamenting the loss of an Iskolar ng Bayan. Furthermore, we lament the essential loss of the significance of this previously esteemed ‘Iskolar ng Bayan’ designation and the tragic system of education that causes it.
Kristel’s loss, more than anything, personalizes and magnifies the horrible education system that we usually capture in the characteristic catchphrases of being ‘commercialized, colonial and fascist.’ Kristel’s loss only attests to the enormous harms posed by this kind of education to our fellow youth and our fellowmen in general. Expensive costs of tuition fees in a State University, which is being such is supposed to be funded by the peoples’ taxes, discriminating schemes such as the No Late Payment policy, and rigorous processes one needs to undergo (i.e. through the STFAP program in UP) in order to prove she deserves to pay less are only a few exemplifications of a kind of education that is being reserved for the privileged. This is how supposed ‘slogans’ will haunt us with their veracity: education is a right and shall be given to every citizen regardless of gender, religion, socioeconomic or ethnic background. The decreasing budget of the University of the Philippines, along with the other 110 State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) in the country, programs aiming to make these SUCs ‘self-sufficient’ by encouraging income-generating projects and privatizing the schools’ assets – these are but a few realities that prove how the Aquino administration neglects the education of its constituents.
Ultimately, it is always disheartening that we have to encounter losses and deaths before we realize the plight that we are in. Kristel’s death shall not be reduced to a kind of ‘pseudo-event’ that Fredric Jameson spoke of. Kristel’s event shall not be just mourned upon without probing the more fundamental issues that it entangles and implicates. Kristel’s death shall be the ultimatum that will rouse us from our slumbering sense of involvement and our lack of awareness, whether these are conscious or otherwise. Kristel’s death shall reveal the crisp legitimacy of the old ‘slogans’ we may have grown tired of but still continually eggs on us to fight for:
Education is a Right!
Justice for Kristel Tejada!
Justice for all the Filipinos denied of a Scientific and Quality Education!