YOUTH activist groups protested at the University of the Philippines (UP) yesterday to condemn its administration for imposing “repressive” policies that force students to undergo “very difficult” enrollment procedures.
Students of the national university slammed what they call an enrollment fiasco brought by the “failure” of the new online registration systems launched by UP’s Alfredo Pascual administeation.
Glitches marred the supposedly “easier” registration, forcing hundreds of students to camp out last Saturday night, July 30, at UP’s Los Baños campus to enlist in subjects.
UP’s “No Late Payment” policy, the failure of the eUP and the Student Academic Information System (SAIS) projects, and the Socialized Tuition System are brought by the increasing commercialization of education in the university, UP Student Regent Raoul Manuel said.
“Nakikita natin na itong pagpapabaya ng UP admin, ang kanilang pag-prioritize sa kita ay nag-ta-translate sa maraming problema para sa mga estudyante,” Manuel said.
SAIS is part of the P752-million eUP project, the flagship program of the university administration.
In partnership with the US-made database computer software Oracle, the Pascual administration said the project aims to integrate all the information and communication systems across all UP constituent units.
SAIS has been rolled out in the Los Baños, Manila and Baguio campuses, while its implementation in other units is still pending.
Manuel questioned the “dubious” cost of implementing such systems that may give rise to budget misappropriations.
“Paraan ito ng pag-privatize ng mga basic student services at isang paraan ng korapsyon sa administrasyon,” Manuel said.
“Parang wala nang pinagkaiba ang UP na dating nanawagan laban sa pork barrel ng national government dahil sa ganito ka-grande na proyekto na hindi naman para sa interes ng mga estudyante at mga sektor ng UP community,” he said.
No late payment
Enrolment in UP Diliman also saw long lines and frayed nerves as hallways near enrollment centers are choked with long lines of students clutching forms, hoping for slots in classes.
“Dalawang araw palang ang enrollment, pero ang dami nang problema ng mga estudyante,” USC Councilor and Basic Student Services Head Donn Bernal said.
Bernal said the revived “No Late Payment” policy imposed an August 5 deadline, the last day of registration, for students to pay matriculation fees.
Students who cannot pay are forced to avail of the university’s student loan program instead.
UP suspended the policy in 2013 following the death of UP Manila student Kristel Tejada who committed suicide after her failure to pay enrollment fees.
Bernal urged the administration to resolve the lack of class slots that forces students to camp out as early as 6 PM of the preceding night for class slots.
On August 2, a dialogue between UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan and representatives from the UP Diliman USC discussed the possibility of junking the policy.
The dialogue resolved that students may pay beyond the deadline as long as they submit a letter to the Chancellor signed by their respective college secretaries.
“STS: Socialized Tuition Scam”
UPD USC Chairperson Bryle Leaño reiterated their demand to junk the Socialized Tuition System (STS) being implemented in UP and various state universities.
“Nailatag na natin sa matagal na panahon na itong STS ay pagkamal ng kita mula sa mga iskolar ng bayan,” Leaño said.
He explained that the P400 million profit from the “Socialized Tuition Scam” is kept as part of UP’s so-called revolving fund instead of being used for better student services.
Josiah Hiponia, Chairperson of the Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (STAND UP), said that the revolving fund is also used to fund more commercialization schemes of the university administration.
“Ang kinukuha nilang kita sa atin ay pinapagpagawa ng mga pasilidad na mas humu-huthot pa ng kita sa mga estudyante,” he said.
Hiponia cited the newly-built Acacia Dormitory that was constructed from the revolving fund.
Instead of providing inexpensive and sufficient student housing, UP charges P3,000 per month to students exclusive of electricity and other charges, she said.
Anakbayan, for its part, said that the education commercialization and deregulation policies are reflections of the rampant commercialization of basic social services in the country.
“May dalawang layunin ang pag-privatize ng basic social services sa bansa. Una, ay abandunahin ang serbisyo para sa mamamayan gaya ng edukasyon ng mga kabataan at, pangalawa, ay ang pagkamal ng kita para sa mga sariling kapakinabangan,” Kenji Muramatsu of Anakbayan UPD said.
Leaño urged students to “stay strong” and join the upcoming series of protests.
“Huwag nating sukuan ang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas. Huwag nating sukuan ang Unibersidad ng Bayan. This is UP, this is our university, kaya naman sama-sama tayong kikilos at sama-sama tayong magtatagumpay,” Leaño said. (Report and photo by Mikhaela Dimpas of UP CMC for Kodao Productions)