Education Not for $ale

This is the rallying cry of youth and students in Panay and Guimaras as we prepare for the Dec.8 “Day of Action.” Realizing education’s importance in molding future citizens who can aid in nation-building, we have repeatedly stood up to uphold education as a right of the Filipino people.

But the Noynoy Aquino government does not seem to share this view with its budget cuts for State Universities and Colleges (SUCs). With the final approval of Congress of the 2012 budget, all that is needed before the final implementation of these cuts is the President’s signature.

Our lobbying efforts and massive protest actions led to the realignment of P200 million for the SUCs. However, the P22 billion SUC budget is far from the P45.8 billion needed by our schools. Amidst the crisis facing the people, a large part of the 2012 budget is allotted for debt, military, doleout, privatization, and pork barrel spending.

The government’s abandonment of its financial responsibility to education forces SUCs to resort to tuition and other fee hikes. This is not just the fight of students or the SUCs but also of the peasant and working class majority who are most affected by rising education costs amidst the ceaseless price hikes, joblessness, hunger, landlessness, and low wages.

Noynoy Aquino rode on the people’s anti-Arroyo sentiment in his promise of change. But his administration’s budget is no different from Arroyo. It has become clear that this twisted budget is reflective of an unjust system that has concentrated the country’s wealth to the ruling elites and foreign powers. Only through our militant collective action can we effectively win our struggle to the end.

Now more than ever, we need youths who can stand up for our rights and create history. Without strong pressure, Aquino will just sign the budget without much ado. We have seen how the Filipino youth became a potent force for greater social transformations throughout our history from the Katipunan-led revolution, the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship, the removal of the U.S. bases, and the ouster of the Estrada regime.

Starting Dec.6, thousands will “Occupy Mendiola.” Student leaders representing 32 student councils, publications, and groups from all 9 SUCs in the region have meanwhile agreed in the Nov.26 Panay and Guimaras SUC Student Summit to launch a Dec.8 “Day of Action” to drumbeat our legitimate demands.

A generation that closes its eyes to its most crucial problems is a sick generation. A generation that is incapable of acting on the problems confronting greater society is a lost generation. Now is not a time of worrying or hoping for the best, but of unity and resistance. Under circumstances when our rights are trampled upon, to rebel becomes justified.*

KABATAAN PARTYLIST | ANAKBAYAN | LEAGUE OF FILIPINO STUDENTS | COLLEGE EDITORS GUILD OF THE PHILIPPINES | NATIONAL UNION OF STUDENTS OF THE PHILIPPINES | STUDENT CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT OF THE PHILIPPINES

* With credits to Aime Cesaire, Gilles Deleuze and Mao Tse Tung.

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