GMA News Online

Valte in wake of student's suicide: Palace has no control in tuition policies

March 16, 2013 2:06pm
Malacañang on Saturday admitted it was helpless in changing tuition policies of state colleges and universities, in the wake of a University of the Philippines Manila student taking her own life supposedly because she could not afford to pay tuition.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte made the admission in an interview on state-run radio dzRB, even as she relayed the Palace’s sympathies to the family of the student.

So far, she said the Commission on Higher Education is involved in moves to “rationalize tuition and financial assistance to students."

When asked if the government will look into some schools’ “no permit, no exam” policy, she said, “Ang college nagse-set niyan, hindi ang CHED.”

Asked if the Palace can ask the UP about the policy, Valte replied, “We will have to defer to UP, since sila nag-set ng policy.”

“What we have from CHED, the CHED discourages that particular practice," (no permit, no exam) since schools can withhold grades or class cards,” she added.

At most, she said the CHED requires state universities and colleges to “increase their fees to a certain percent,” but with consultation with parents, students and everyone involved.

Meanwhile, Valte declined to comment further on the UP student’s suicide, saying it is a “complex” and “very sensitive” issue.

“Hindi tayo makikisali sa speculation bakit humantong sa ganito," she said.

Militants' call

Militants on Saturday called on the government to take a hard look at the country's public education system after a University of the Philippines Manila student who could not afford tuition took her own life Friday.

The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan also called for the scrapping of the UP's present tuition system and the resignation of the UP Manila's officials.

“For more than two decades, tuition rates in UP have gone up while more and more poor students are eased out despite a so-called socialized tuition policy. This is not just UP’s problem. This is the government’s problem...," said Bayan secretary general and former UP activist Renato Reyes Jr.

Reyes also branded as "too little, too late" the UP Manila administration's offer of financial assistance to the student’s family.

"The UP Manila administration should just take full responsibility and resign and take with them their ‘forced leave policy,'” he added.

Since 1989, UP has been implementing a Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP).

Under the STFAP, the wealthier students subsidize the poorer ones via a bracketing system.

But Reyes said the STFAP is basically a "revenue-generating scheme which absolves the State from the primary  responsibility of subsidizing tuition" and requires a periodic increase in tuition.

It noted tuition in UP before the STFAP was implemented cost about P14/unit. During the transition to STFAP, tuition was raised to P40/unit.

But when STFAP was implemented in 1989, tuition was hiked further to P200/unit. By 2007, tuition was at P1,000/unit. Presently, a special bracket pegs tuition as high as  P1,500/unit.

Suicide caused by complex factors

According to the World Health Organization in a primer on suicide prevention addressed to the media, "suicide is never the result of a single factor or event."

"It is usually caused by a complex interaction of many factors such as mental and physical illness, substance abuse, family disturbances, interpersonal conflicts and life stressors," it said.

According to  Dr. Erminia Colucci, a researcher and lecturer from the University of Melbourne’s Centre for International Mental Health, the public should be informed about the nature of suicide in order to effectively help prevent it.

Suicide is always a complexity of factors. It’s always important to think that it’s never one reason. There are some situations, some possible issues that might put some people more at risk for suicide,” she said in a GMA News Online report published in October 2012. — with a report from Gian C. Geronimo /LBG, GMA News
Go to comments

We welcome healthy discussions and friendly debate! Please click Flag to alert us of a comment that may be abusive or threatening. Read our full comment policy here.
Comments Powered by Disqus