By Hans Noel Balila, secretary-general for campaigns and advocacies of National Union of Students of the Philippines-Cebu

THE National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) Cebu joined youth organizations on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, in a protest action in front of the Commission on Higher Education Central Visayas office (Ched 7) to expose the criminal negligence of the Duterte administration to students devastated by Typhoon Odette (Rai).

To close the protest, the NUSP-Cebu submitted the Cebu Student Demands petition papers and requested a dialogue with Ched. The dialogue was successfully conducted on Thursday, Jan. 13, with Ched committing to endorse the petition to the Ched Central Office.

In the aftermath of Odette, students in Cebu were among the affected sectors. On top of the widespread destruction and the loss of electricity, water and telco/internet signal, students were already bearing the burden of distance learning and failed pandemic response.

The protest action called on Cebuano students to come together and collectively demand humane policies in education that will aid their recovery, ensuring that no students get left behind.

Before the protest, NUSP Cebu had launched student consultations with student councils and organizations to formulate the Cebu Student Demands. This was made in response to the problems in education.

The unities are as follows: End the semester, implement a no-fail and no forced drop policy, lobby for student and teachers’ aid, and unite for a comprehensive pandemic response. As of this writing, the petition had garnered the support of over 3,000 individuals and 14 organizations.

The strong and numerous unities led to the launching of the dialogue between Ched and the signatories of the request. NUSP Cebu welcomed the response and commitments of Ched

Currently, Ched 7 is collecting disaster reports from higher educational institutions (HEIs). Ched committed to encouraging universities and colleges to practice academic flexibility as per Ched Memorandum 4 s. 2020, allowing HEIs to change academic calendars and requirements, submit adjusted calendars, and maintain the number of school days. Ched also committed to endorsing the petition and position paper to the Ched Central Office.

Amid many victories of the students’ campaigning across Cebu schools, the sector still remains committed to forwarding the Cebu Student Demands until the campaign slogan no student left behind is achieved.