Latest News:  


Suicide of college student raises reflection on Philippine tuition policies

By Alito L. Malinao (Xinhua)

10:19, March 24, 2013

MANILA, March 23 (Xinhua) -- A young Filipino student who became despondent after her parents failed to pay her tuition fees in the University of the Philippines (UP) committed suicide last week, triggering campus protests and calls for a review of school policies toward poor but deserving students.

Kristel Tejada, a 16-year-old student of behavioral science in UP, the premier state-run university in the Philippines, died on March 15 after drinking a liquid silver cleaner at her house in Tondo, a depressed area in Manila.

In her suicide note, Tejada said she "could not take it anymore." Tejada was forced to take a leave of absence from her studies when her parents failed to pay the loan of 10,000 pesos ( about 250 U.S. dollars) for her tuition.

Tejada's father is only a cab driver with no fixed income and her mother is a plain housewife. But both parents have high hopes that a college education for their daughter, who was bright and industrious, could lift them from poverty.

Tejada was a student at the UP Campus in Manila. The university 's main campus is in Diliman, Quezon City, a suburb of Manila.

In the wake of Tejada's suicide, several student protests were held at the two campuses.

What made Tejada's suicide ironic was that a day earlier UP President Alfredo Pascual has instructed all chancellors of UP campuses throughout the country not to bar the enrolment of poor but qualified students.

Pascual said that the school is now investigating whether there is a link between Tejada's death and her failure to pay tuition fees.

According to Pascual, the UP is in process of reviewing its socialized tuition and financial assistance program, a scheme that would provide financial assistance to poor students who pass the university's rigid admission tests.

Under the program, tuition fees are ladderized wherein students whose families have higher income would pay more while poor students would pay less.

While saddened by the suicide of Tejada, the Philippine government insisted that it had not been "remiss" in its duty to provide an ample budget for state universities and colleges (SUCs).

"This is an unfortunate incident which dealt with the internal policy of the UP school system," Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

But Teddy Casio, a member of the House of Representatives, lashed out at the administration of President Benigno Aquino III for slashing a big amount from the budget of SUCs last year.

Casio, a UP graduate and now running for senator, also protested at the UP's forced leave-of-absence policy as what happened to Tejada, adding that the state university is now a university for the privileged and not for the poor.

According to the legislator, UP was known for assisting poor but deserving students. Now, at UP Diliman alone, less than 10 percent, or around 400 students, do not pay tuition.

He said that only 2 percent, or 74 students, were granted free tuition and stipend, while only 8 percent, or 323 students, were granted free tuition with no stipend at all.

Citing data from the Congressional Planning and Budget Research Department, Casio said that the SUC share in the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country declined from 0.41 percent in 1991 to 0.29 percent in 2013.

Congressman Edgardo "Sonny" Angara, chairman of the House committee on higher and technical education, said Tejada's death should be a wake-up call for the government to review its priorities on basic services and for SUCs to revisit their policies.

Angara said public spending on education in the country represented just a little over 2 percent of the country's GDP, below the 6 percent requirement of the United Nations.

Angara proposed three policy reforms to help the poor get college education. These include using the government's conditional cash transfer program to fund one college scholarship from each "deserving" poor family; expanding the government's study-now-pay-later program and allowing students to take exams through promissory notes.

Former Senator Ernesto Maceda said the government should support poor students who want to finish college. "A student should not be stopped from pursuing his or her education and the Commission on Higher Education and SUCs should review their policies in helping poor students," he said.

We recommend:

Mango Festival held in Zambales, the Philippines

10th anniversary of Iraq War: bitter memories of U.S.

Palestinian protest against visit of Obama in West Bank

Police foil weapon smuggling attempts in Pakistan

Malaysia launches all-out attack in Sabah

Afghans celebrate New Year in Persian calendar

Email|Print|Comments(Editor:GaoYinan、Liang Jun)

Related Reading

Leave your comment0 comments

  1. Name


Selections for you

  1. Weekly review of military photos

  2. Indian people celebrate Latthmaar Holi festival

  3. Tibet wool factory in Zharang town

  4. Extreme weather kills 24 in South China

  5. Serial killer's lover given 5-year jail term

  6. Life in containers in suburban Shanghai

  7. Ancient city builds itself cultural tourism center

  8. 'Tourism Year of China' opens in Moscow

  9. Inferior line blamed for slow run of bullet train

  10. Green tax mulled to help fight pollution

Most Popular


  1. Iraq War tenth anniversary gives us revelations
  2. Richer parents, more fashionable children
  3. Hopes for Obama's trip
  4. Commentary: To pivot to Asia or peace?
  5. Lavish behavior punished
  6. Migration part of global development
  7. CCTV in hot water after corporate exposé backfires
  8. Cultural parks no substitute for talent
  9. Planning vital to diplomacy
  10. Loopholes for rich make estate tax meaningless

What’s happening in China

Now you can use mobile phone to 'call' the dead

  1. Five-year jail term for 'homicidal thief' girlfriend
  2. Marine forecasting initiated in China's Sansha City
  3. Funeral held for famous Chinese village chief
  4. Zoo pleads innocence for panda abuse
  5. 8,000 fined for jaywalking in E China