16 January 2012
Protest vs. tuition increase opens National Youth Week
Geared with the same vigor and aspirations as those of the youth 42 years ago, youth from various schools and communities in the city today marked with protest the beginning of the 10-day countdown before the culmination of the National Youth Week on January 26.
The protest today highlighted the issue of the proposed tuition increase in Brokenshire College of Davao. Last Friday, January 13, around 250 students of the Brokenshire College of Davao braved the cold, heavy downpour and the threats of sanctions as they stood in protest against the proposed 200 percent tuition hike in their school. Brokenshirians lambasted their administration’s scheme in commercializing education, especially in a non-stock, non-profit academic institution like Brokenshire College of Davao.
Christian dela Cruz, the prime minister of the Supreme Student Council of Brokenshire College, said that the proposal to increase tuition did not undergo genuine consultation as the administrators failed to provide the students with the official financial statement of the school and the students no longer had the chance to study the proposal. “It was never a consultation. It was more of a presentation of their plans,” Dela Cruz said.
The annual commemoration of the National Youth Week aims to relive the nationalism and active engagement of the youth in challenging the unjust social order under Marcos dictatorship during the first quarter of 1970.
“We find no significant social progress in the country today from what it has been in the 1970s. We have a growing number of corrupt officials. There is still no genuine land reform. Our parents still do not get decent and humane wages, many are even unemployed. Each year, tuition and miscellaneous fees in most schools increase. Foreign corporations are still allowed to plunder our natural resources, oftentimes causing environmental catastrophes. There is still much to fight for,” explained Krista Melgarejo, vice president for Mindanao of the National Union of Students of the Philippines.
Melgarejo said that the youth of the First Quarter Storm in the 1970s were instrumental in toppling down a fascist dictator. But, according to her, “it is the youth of today who will bear the burden of essentially changing the system.”
With the theme “Youth, Unite: Heed the Call of Our Time, Struggle for Genuine Democracy and Freedom,” this year’s National Youth Week will highlight the youth’s active role in three key issues: education, employment and environment.
“We see hope from today’s dissenting youth,” according to Melgarejo. “Last year, more than 10,000 students, along with their professors and administrators marched the streets to call for higher state subsidy in education. In the recent disasters in Mindanao, we saw a lot of young people who volunteered to help in the relief and rehabilitation drives, while not forgetting to seek accountability from the environmental plunderers and from the government. Today’s youth are actually in action,” she said.
Melgarejo and dela Cruz said that what happened in Brokenshire College and what they did today were just preludes. They said this National Youth Week, they will muster, strengthen and mobilize their ranks to value their historical mandate as agents of change.
Krista Iris Melgarejo
NUSP Vice President for Mindanao