As the cost of education soars to unprecedented levels, the assault to campus press freedom continues.
The new academic year opens with the same old dilemmas: bloated tuition and increasing rate of miscellaneous fees, dilapidated facilities, and classroom shortage. Instead of asserting for greater state subsidy, school administrators are implementing policies that, more often than not, include raising tuition rates and overcharging on other fees. In essence, the administrators are tolerating the state abandonment of education, the right to which is guaranteed by the Philippine constitution.
And this is what many student publications condemn. The antagonistic nature of campus press emerges when there is a need for the fiercest resistance at the face of such policies. It emerges when there is a need to protect the students’ rights, to articulate the youth’s demand for affordable, quality education.
The response of many administrators has always been to use methods of repression. When publications lambast the administration for crafting anti-student policies, these administrators retaliate by suppressing the freedom of expression. Hence, in numerous cases, publications were closed down, editors were harassed, suspended or expelled, newspapers were censored, among others. Worse, some administrators do not take any action with the entry of military elements in the school premises, while soldiers conduct surveillance on student publications and councils. In the latest National Student Press Convention of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), the broadest and oldest intercollegiate alliance of student publications nationwide, the delegates reported 187 cases of campus press freedom violations across the country.
Indeed, in the history of the student movement, administrators, no different from the fascists in the government, have always silenced the campus press.
|Problems in collecting publication fund (including non-mandatory collection)||11|
|Witholding of funds/delayed release of funds||78|
|Harassment of staffers||31|
Now, despite President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s promise that education would be his administration’s top priority, the state of the education sector remains dismal. As if it could not sink any lower, it just did.
Number of schools set to increase tuition this year: 281
Number of new classrooms: Around 18,000
Number of classrooms needed: 134,000
Average cost of tuition in the country in the 1990s: Around P260 per unit
Average cost of tuition in the country in 2011: P501 per unit
Number of youth who could not afford to go to school : 8 million
Percentage of national budget allotted for education under Arroyo: 13 percent
Percentage of national budget allotted for education under Aquino: 11 percent
It doesn’t take a genius to see that addressing the perennial crisis in education would entail higher allocation for basic services. Aquino’s administration, however, tried to justify the budget cuts and tuition increases. It even crafted the K-12 program, which, according to Aquino, would improve the quality of education by lengthening the period of time spent in school. What he does not understand – or refuses to understand – is that the length of time is not the sole determinant of quality education. In fact, other countries which scored higher in aptitude tests have shorter education cycles than that in the Philippines.
The truth is that the objective of K-12 is to produce cheap manpower ready for export. The thrust of Philippine education remains the same: production of semi-skilled labor to cater to the global market.
Given these conditions, student publications have more than enough reason to be antagonistic. Now more than ever, publications needed to take a firm, critical stand in the advancement of student interests amid these assaults to the right to education. Above all, this is the time to arm the students with the knowledge that the crisis in education is inextricably bound to the crisis of the society as a whole. To genuinely change the nature of the education system, it is necessary to change the status quo in which majority of the farmers remain landless and workers receive little benefits and unjustly low wages. For along with these changes comes the initiative to put the premium on social services such as education.
STOP CAMPUS PRESS FREEDOM VIOLATIONS!
FIGHT FOR EDUCATION!
ROLLBACK THE TUITION!
FIGHT FOR A NATIONALIST, SCIENTIFIC AND MASS-ORIENTED EDUCATION!
The College Editors Guild of the Philippines
Edz dela Cruz – Secretary General – 09065581257
Gidget Estella – National Media Officer– 09153352021