Wednesday, July 9, 2008

U.P. Closed to Brightest of Poor

On the third day of classes in the hundredth year of the University of the Philippines (UP), a freshman from Cotabato province, a Chemistry major at UP in Diliman, Quezon City, had to drop out. Together with his father, the brokenhearted young man went to see each of his instructors to have his subjects invalidated.

While his Math 17 instructor was deleting his name from the class list, I could see the poverty, desperation, anger and sense of resignation in their faces. It was not the disappointment of winning the lottery and being denied the prize later. The young man is a member of a minority group in Mindanao. Without any connections and in the absence of any socialized admission policy, he qualified as a freshman in the College of Science of UP Diliman, a distinction he earned through intelligence, pure hard work and perseverance amid poverty. But in a few days, father and son are going back to Mindanao for good.

The father explained they could not afford the “socialized” tuition at P600 per unit for students in Bracket C, families whose annual incomes range from P135,001 to P500,000 per annum. The father and son expected to be in Bracket D, families with annual incomes ranging from P80,001 to P135,000. Students in bracket D pay P300 per unit.

UP president Emerlinda Roman seems to be disconnected from reality, or she must be fooling herself by insisting that the new Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP) is fair and proper for an “iskolar ng bayan” [scholar of the nation]. Her family should try living on P6,666.75 a month (which when multiplied by 12—the number of months in a year—equals P80,001, the lower bound of Bracket D incomes).

UP, no longer conscious of its role in society, chooses to ignore the long-term impact of offering greater genuine educational opportunities to the brightest among the poor, who are getting poorer amid the reported economic gains of the country. Socialized admission and tuition fee schemes do not lower academic standards. I’ve had countless students from public schools and far-flung provinces. They come to UP not as well prepared as their counterparts from the best schools in Metro Manila. But many later outshine the sometimes overconfident Manila-raised kids.

After the new STFAP took effect last year, UP is no longer an option for the brightest among the poor. I agree with the cab driver whose daughter qualified for UP Diliman, as narrated in Youngblood (Inquirer, 3/24/08) by Mariel Kierulf Asiddao, a UP Mass Communication student. The cab driver insisted it was ESTIFAK and not STFAP.

article reference


yoogiebear said...

I cannot help but feel dismayed about this. Although I'm no longer a student, I can feel the sense of frustration and disappointment the father and his son felt. How can an institution like UP rob young, bright people - who are the bearers of the future of this nation- of their dreams? Although it hurts us taxpayers to spare a large chunk of our salary for the country, the only consolation we can get from it is the thought that it is being put to good use. Nakakalungkot talaga ang TOFI - ito ang pinaka-maling desisyon na nagawa ng mga namamahala sa UP at ng gobyerno!

tutubi said...

even years before i already noticed that. UP's not really for the poor as you can see from the parked cars in the campus... only a brother of mine got admitted there. I didn't even try to take the UPCAT since my preferred course was not offered then

jhabevs said...

So sad.. I was one of those students who dismissed the idea of joining the anti-TOFI rallies. Ngayon, parang nagsisisi na ako.

Sabi ko nga sa'yo Reb kanina, iisipin ko lagi yung farmer saka yung anak nya everytime na balak kong mag-cut ng class or mag-absent. Haayy...

TENTAY™ said...

SAN MAGdrop ng entre ditu bulag ako eh o.O

betchay said...

that's really sad... my nephew had a gradeschool classmate before... they were really poor, his mom - a widow and a market vendor selling calamansi - struggled to send her three bright sons to school... all three of them entered PSHS... and UP later on... the eldest of them got a job at a big corporation after and was assigned to the bicol region... on their alumni homecoming last year, he used the company's chopper to go to angeles city... i bet there are more poor people out there who could make a difference if they would be given the chance