Students and youth walkout against TOFI

Mar. 05, 2009

Students and youth walkout against TOFI

DAVAO CITY — About 300 students and youth from various colleges, universities and communities walked out of their classrooms and homes on Friday as a protest against Tuition and Other Fees Increase (TOFI) and the commercialization of education.

The activity, spearheaded by militant youth group Anakbayan and other student and youth organizations, began with an assembly of students and out-of-school youth in Freedom Park. The participants then marched to Rizal Park to continue the program and conclude the protest.

The Filipino youth and students are affected by the global financial crisis at hand. Massive layoffs in firms, increased prices of basic commodities, and the commercialization of education are just some of the effects of the crisis. It is therefore necessary that the youth and students take a stand in social issues and its effects on the sector of education, Sheena Duazo, Spokesperson of Anakbayan southern Mindanao said.

The militant group expressed grief in ineffective ‘remedies’ of the Arroyo administration to the crisis.

The students will face another TOFI at the next opening of classes. CHED, as the commission that should protect the interests of the students, has been futile in implementing moratorium in private schools because of the deregulation in education, Duazo said.

The group was referring to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) who, through their memorandum released last February 20, made an appeal to all the colleges and universities to suspend increases in tuition and other fees as a response to the crisis.

However, the toothless appeal made it impossible for other private schools to implement. In the country, 258 HEIs have passed proposals on TOFI, including 4 state colleges and universities, Duazo said.

The League of Filipino Students (LFS) also condemns the actions of the Arroyo administration when it comes to unemployment and underemployment of the graduates of this year.

It is a shameful how the Arroyo administration brags about the decrease of the unemployed and the underemployed when there are about 900,000 graduates this year who will add to 3.9 million jobless Filipinos, Karlos Manlupig, LFS spokesperson said.

The protest was also represented by student groups in Davao City coming from different colleges and universities.

In Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU), aside from the impending threat of the 6% increase in TOFI, the students face the New Exam Permit Policy (NEPP). This anti-student policy gives constraint to the students upon paying their tuition fees on time. If a student is unable to pay within a certain amount of time, the student will have a possibility of failing the exams and even dropping out of school, Myrna Imperial, a student of AdDU also said.

The breakdown of our miscellaneous fees in University of Mindanao was not shown in our statement of account. Questionable fees such as ‘e-learning fee’ or ‘dyn-ed fee’ are extra fees that are unnecessary to the students and were implemented without genuine student consultation. It is also alarming that the university does not have a genuine student council and publication, Christian Lloyd Espinosa, spokesperson of the Alliance of Concerned Students in University of Mindanao said.

The walkout is a manifestation of how the students will empower themselves by defying the crisis and fighting back against the hard issues that is at hand. We should take a stand and be part of the protest for change, Duazo concluded.

For reference:

Johnny Boy Urbina (Anakbayan Media Officer) Mobile #: 0909-822-1933

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