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Student groups summon government agencies, raise education sector woes
Days before the start of classes, various student groups today summoned representatives from various government agencies such as the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Philippine National Police (PNP), Commission on Human Rights (CHR), and the National Youth Commission (NYC) to a dialogue to air out the various issues and concerns of the education sector. According to Akbayan Youth Spokesperson JC Tejano, the students convened the dialogue in order to create an avenue for pressing student issues to be addressed.
“Pinatawag ng mga estudyante itong dialogue para bigyang tugon ang mga isyung kinahaharap namin. Sa palagay namin, hindi dahil sa nagpoprotesta kami tungkol sa mga isyung ito ay walang lugar para magkaroon ng masinsinang paguusap. Bukas kami sa ibang mga paraan para solusyonan ang mga problema ng mga estudyante,” according to Tejano.
“Gusto rin namin maging institutionalized itong dialogue. Hopefully, we can hold these dialogues every semester to ensure that there is a mechanism wherein we can constantly improve the programs and policies targeting the student sector,” Tejano said.
Among the list of issues tackled by the dialogue include the tuition and other school fee increases and reports of irregular consultations with students conducted by some colleges and universities.
“The rising cost of education has always been a burden to students, many of whom come from families struggling to make ends meet. We urge CHED to immediately act on this concern. We have also received numerous reports of irregular or the lack of consultations with the students by some schools,” according to Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP) Chairperson Heart Diño.
Students’ safety and security
The student groups also raised students’ safety concerns with the PNP especially with the opening of classes.
“Dapat nga kapag unang araw o balik-eskwela masaya yung karanasan at hindi nag-aalala yung mga estudyante na baka maging biktima sila ng krimen,” according to Polytechnic University of the Philippines – College of Communication Student Council President Cedric Martinez.
“Natutuwa kami na may ginagawa rin yung PNP para protektahan yung mga estudyante ngayong pagbukas ng eskwelahan. Sana itong dayalogo ay makatulong para magkaroon ng higit na pagtutulungan para maaksyunan ang mga insidente ng krimen,” Martinez added.
Martinez also expressed hope that the police authorities will likewise exert maximum tolerance during student-led protests.
“Pakiusap rin namin sa mga pulis natin na tiyaking walang karahasang mangyayari sa tuwing nagsasagawa kami ng demonstrations at protesta. Ipinapahayag lang naman namin ang aming mga saloobin tungkol sa mga isyu ng bayan. Ayaw naman naming may nasasaktan,” Martinez said.
Discriminatory policies against openly gay, pregnant, and student activists
The student groups also urged closer coordination between the CHR, the NYC and the student groups in addressing various reports of discriminatory practices being implemented by some schools such as prohibiting pregnant and openly gay students from enrolling as well as requiring students to promise not to engage in activism.
“It is troubling that there are still some schools with policies which are blatantly violating the students’ rights. The CHR, together with the NYC, must immediately act on them and put an end to such practices,” Diño said.
Tejano said he looked forward to creating stronger coordination between the students and the government agencies to monitor future incidents of abuses.
“Hopefully this partnership can lead to an efficient way of addressing students concerns. We feel this is an important step in expanding the strategies and forums that students can use to safeguard their rights and advance their welfare,” Tejano added.
The inter-agency dialogue is being spearheaded by Akbayan Youth together with SCAP and student council groups from various colleges and universities such as the PUP – College of Communication, University of the Philippines – Diliman, De La Salle University, Ateneo de Manila University, University of the Philippines – Manila, San Beda College are also taking part in the inter-agency dialogue. The youth and student groups are hopeful that the dialogue can be institutionalized and convened every semester.
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