“There should be a master plan for education.”
This was the statement of Senator Alan Cayetano today at the first Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) senatorial forum held at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman Film Institute.
“Education is an investment. The country needs to invest in its youth. I believe that every Filipino has a right to free education,” he said.
During the second part of the program, members of the audience were given the opportunity to ask each senator in attendance a question. Christopher and Blesilda Tejada, parents of UP Manila Behavioral Science student Kristel Tejada who committed suicide allegedly due to her inability to pay for her tuition, posed the question fielded to Senator Cayetano.
“Even if Kristel’s case might be an isolated one, we cannot ignore the glaring truth education has become too expensive. This factors in everything – from tuition fees to transportation costs to uniforms and school supplies,” Cayetano said as he underscored the need to implement more effective student assistance schemes to address this problem.
“That is why in Taguig, not only do elementary and high school students have zero tuition, they also have free school supplies and uniform. For the tertiary level, the city government has kept the tuition fee at Taguig City University (TCU) from going up as a means to further ease the burden of education costs on the students and their families who are striving hard to make ends meet,,” Cayetano shared.
Cayetano gave his assurance to Kristel’s parents that he, along with his fellow lawmakers, will continue to push for reform and work hand-in-hand with the government to make their promise of a truly accessible education system a reality.
Cayetano added that he knows what it feels like to lose someone to suicide because a good friend of his also committed suicide when he was in college.
Cayetano reiterated his call to the Aquino government to veer away from its assumption that state universities and colleges (SUCs) should be self-sufficient. Instead, he said that education must be viewed as an investment and must be made accessible to all Filipinos.
To allow the youth to find their ideal jobs after graduating, Cayetano proposed an Education for Employment Program. “This can be done through a partnership with schools, both private and public, with companies in the information technology (IT), manufacturing, business process outsourcing (BPO) industries and other booming industries,” he said.#