Editorial: The problem with education-A A +A
Monday, March 18, 2013
THE problem with our education system was flashing at us yesterday as University of the Philippines officials tried to explain what the policy for leave of absence and being dropped from the rolls for inability to pay tuition in full after a prescribed period.
It was a pain to listen to them, we opted to watch the noisy noontime show instead. Self-preservation it’s called. No man can hold anger for long without causing injury to himself.
The suicide story by itself was already heartbreaking, we couldn’t find the right words to explain our thoughts and so we opted to hold our opinion to ourselves. But yesterday’s session forced us to speak up as while unspoken, the officials seemed to be pushing and shoving and hammering the blame on the 16-year-old freshman Kristel Tejada, who, coming from her poor background, must truly have felt that her world ended with that forced leave of absence.
From all indications, it was not as if she did not seek help as the girl was said to have been a constant visitor of the counselor’s office. But there is just so much heartbreak a 16-year-old can withstand. Many have taken their lives over just a spat with boyfriends or parents. Hers was about a future she felt she can already grasp but was yanked away from her reach.
Soon after the suicide news broke, Tony Leachon, director of UP Manila Information, Publications and Public Affairs, quickly tried to wash their hands off the incident saying the suicide “was reportedly triggered by a confluence of issues.”
He even had the temerity to compare Tejada with Philippine Military Academy 2013 class valedictorian Cadet First Class Jestony Aman Lanaja, son of a tuba gatherer from Hagonoy town in Davao del Sur.
“The student who topped the Philippine Military Academy was a son of a poor farmer and despite their poverty his mental stability was fine. It is possible that Kristel had a deep-seated depression that just snapped,” said Leachon. Unlike UP students, PMA cadets don’t pay tuition.
Not satisfied with questioning Tejada’s state of mind, he added that there were at last 20 other students in the same predicament, insinuating that it was only Tejada who commited suicide.
It got worse yesterday as it was already the UP officials who were trying to wash their hands off, and all they can come up with are illogical defense to their policy of being dropped from the rolls should you not be able to fully pay tuition by the prescribed period, and forcing you to take a leave of absence if you really want to return when you have enough money.
So what’s wrong with our education? You only need to listen to the university officials. He greater wrong being listening to Malacanang saying the national government does not have any hand in policy-making of state universities when it could easily just speak up against policies that kills the system, along with them, the students, and see how state universities will sit up and take notice.
We can only weep at the sidelines.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 19, 2013.