Various education sectors in Cordillera assess concerns

BAGUIO CITY — Some 110 participants from various sectors in Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) attended the regional conference on education entitled “Forging Unity Among Various Sectors Towards Quality education” held on February 21.

The conference became a venue to make steps and plan of actions to address the basic problems in education that the region faces today.

The state of education was viewed from different perspectives. National Union of Student of the Philippines Baguio-Benguet (NUSP-BB) Chairperson Maria Finela Mejia said education system in Cordillera is commercialized, colonial and fascist, as manifested in the rising cost of education and the courses offered today.

She cited the implementation of Commission on Higher Education Memorandum Order 13 (CHEd Memo 13) as major cause of the yearly tuition and other fees hikes for it allows school owners to increase tuition and other fees without limit.

Amid the rising cost of education, the government and schools promote courses that are marketable and the ones with labor-export orientation. In the end, she challenges the youth by saying, “we should unite in fighting for our right to nationalist, mass-oriented and scientific education.”

CHEd recognized the students’ dilemma and said they have and will continue to ask the school owners not to increase tuition and other fees. When CHEd mentioned its assistance programs, some delegates commented they can not avail these scholarships because they do not meet the requirements of being “poor but deserving.”

On this note, CHEd CAR Director Virginia Akiate asked the students to pass a position paper regarding this so that CHEd can review the requirements of its scholarship programs.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), on the other hand, faulted the insufficient budget and government’s misprioritization of education for the declining quality of education.

“There are classrooms, books, and teachers shortages, yet the government allocates almost half of the national budget to debt services,” ACT Metro-Baguio Coordinator Perry Mendoza said.

These problems in education were proved to be true by the delegates themselves during the workshop groups where they cited manifestations of education problems in their provinces of Abra, Apayao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province.

With the crisis in education, the delegates were then divided into workshop groups and made as to how they can address the problems. Before the conference ends, the delegates came up with “Manifesto of unity calling for the quality and relevant education for all young Filipinos” signed by the delegates. # Adrian Galang

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