THERE is the disturbing report that the Board of Regents of the University of the Philippines is moving to phase out the university’s secondary school in Cebu, due in most likelihood, to budgetary constraints, among other causes. The school was opened sometime in 1947, right after World War II, in an effort to imbue the Cebuano youth who wanted better quality education the opportunity to have one.

And that is exactly what the UP High School in Cebu has been doing since then. Poor and talented Cebuano elementary school graduates have found in UP High the quality secondary education at a cost lower than those in private schools in the city. In a sense, the UP High has been offering the talented poor not only in Cebu, but the other Visayan provinces as well, a door for better education.

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Cebu’s representatives in Congress have made a move in the right direction when they co-authored “a bill asking the University of the Philippines’ (UP) administration not to close the high school department of the UP Visayas Cebu College (UPVCC).” Private sector observers assert that the UP authorities may have realized that there is a concentration of secondary schools in Cebu, that UP High will not be missed.

The UP System is now essentially a tertiary education institution that is focusing on college programs, continuing education and graduate programs. This means that the UP Board of Regents has given secondary education a very low priority in their plans. But they may have missed the UP’s original mission to offer to the country’s poor youth the opportunity to acquire quality training they otherwise could not have elsewhere.

The House Bill 1569 authored by the Kabataan Party-list representative is urging the “UP administration to continue the full and unhampered operations of UP High School in Cebu College to serve the poor, but deserving students and the Cebu community as a whole.” Toward this end, the Cebu lawmakers volunteered to help support “the budget of the state-run high school in Cebu City…”

The issue here is that the deserving Cebuano students who can ill-afford to enroll in private schools that offer quality secondary education may not be deprived of such opportunity simply because of financial inability. It is thus only fair and just that the government, which is in a position to provide opportunity to deserving poor and talented Filipino youth the quality learning they need, to do something.

The bill, HB 1569, has already passed first reading the other day, and has been referred to the committee on higher and technical education as well as in the committee on basic education and culture. All that is needed now is the public support to let the UP Board of Regents make an exception of the UP High in Cebu in its overall tertiary education program.