Here’s UP Faculty Regent Dr. Judy Taguiwalo’s speech during yesterday’s welcome ceremonies for UP Manila freshmen. Photo from Dr. Taguiwalo.
Pagpupugay at Ilang Paalaala sa mga Bagong Iskolar ng Bayan ng UP Manila
Maalab na pagbati sa inyo, mga bagong estudyante ng UP Manila.
Tulad sa iba sa inyo rito, promdi ako, taga Negros Occidental, nang pumasok sa UP noong 1965. Pero di tulad sa inyo, di ko kinailangang pumasa ng UPCAT para maging estudyante ng UP. Sa panahong ko, awtomatikong makakapasok ang mga Valedictorian at Salutatorian ng mga high school. Sa panahon ko, P165 lang yata ang tuition and miscellaneous fees at P30 lang ang buwanang bayad sa dorm. Kaya kahit galing ako sa public school at wala masyadong kaya ang mga magulang ko na mga public school teacher, nakatagal ako at nakapagtapos sa UP Diliman.
Syempre iba na ang panahon ngayon.
I would like to congratulate you for passing the UPCAT and as importantly for actually enrolling in UP, the premier university of the country. Of the more than 60,000 high school graduates who take the UPCAT, only around 10% qualify for admission to the various campuses of the university. Academic requirements for entry to UP are stringent. But a growing number of those who are potentially Iskolar ng Bayan do not become so because of financial constraints. Tuition and other student fees and living expenses are extremely high even for those who come from middle-class families and especially for those who qualified for entrance to UP but are poor.
The small number of UPCAT passers and actual UP freshies compared to the total number who apply reflects the fact that majority of the Filipino youth actually do not reach college, and only 14 out of every 100 students who enter grade 1 complete their college education.
In this sense you are part of the lucky few, the potential intellectual elite of our country, whose UP education can become the key to fulfilling your dreams and aspirations. A UP education would, I fervently hope, help you in expanding your personal dreams and aspirations to encompass dreams and aspirations for our country and our people. This is because you are now an Iskolar ng Bayan. Your UP education is supposed to prepare you for service to the nation.
But what is the state of our nation, the state of our Pilipinas nating hirang?
There is no doubt that our country is beautiful, and we possess rich natural resources but there is also no doubt that majority of our people are poor.
In 2008, almost 11 million were unemployed or underemployed and this number could rise to some 12 to 13 million in 2009. Estimates place some 65 million Filipinos or around 80% of the total population struggle to survive on the equivalent of 96 pesos or less per day.
This is contradiction number 1: Such a rich country but so many are poor.
This widespread poverty is further aggravated by many political and social problems: corruption, electoral fraud, charter change prior to the 2010 elections, human rights violations, issues of national sovereignty, violence against women and children, environmental degradation, and decreasing or nominal increases in allocation for education, health and other social services, to name a few.
Contradictions within UP nating mahal
UP as the country’s premier institution of higher learning cannot divorce itself from the realities facing our country. You will discover in your stay in the university the various contradictions within it.
This contradiction is manifested at the immediate level in the perennial inadequate budget of the university. UP’s annual budget approved by Congress is much, much lower than our requirements for ensuring quality education, quality facilities and adequate compensation for our personnel. While we require something like P18 billion per year, we actually receive only P7 billion from the national government. And this budget includes allocation for UP Manila’s Philippine General Hospital. You already experienced the effect of this major financial constraint faced by our university. The UP administration has turned more and more to generating revenues to fill the gap. This has meant higher tuition and other student fees (TOFI), rentals for the use of various campus spaces, reducing free services offered to indigent patients in our PGH while the university enters into partnerships with private corporations including transnational drug companies.
This is contradiction number 2: UP as a public institution of higher learning and its increasing reliance on privately -generated revenues including higher student fees.
And UP is not alone in this situation. The share in the expenditures for state universities and colleges coming from internally generated revenues has increased from P 2.42 billion pesos in 2001 to P7.54 billion in 2008. For 2008, almost 80 % of estimated internally generated earnings of government universities and colleges would come from the students, through tuition and other fees. In stark contrast, in 2001 the percentage of income from student and other fees to total income of the SUCs was less than 11%
UP’s new charter, approved in 2008, is only the second in our university’s 100 year history. The charter spells out the university’s social responsibility in Section 8 of RA 9500: The national university is committed to serve the Filipino nation and humanity. While it carries out the obligation to pursue universal principles, it must relate its activities to the needs of the Filipino people and their aspirations for social progress and transformation.
This section in the new charter is explicit about the university’s obligation and commitment to serve the Filipino nation and people. On the other hand, the continuing exodus of many UP graduates to foreign shores, including much needed graduates of medicine and nursing; changes in the general education curriculum which have made courses in Philippine history or Filipino optional and the increasing emphasis for UP faculty to publish in foreign journals are sources of concern. Definitely tensions between meeting our nation’s needs and prioritizing global competitiveness and global standards exist in the university.
This is contradiction Number 3: UP’s role in the enhancement of nationalism and national identity and its increasing emphasis on global competitiveness and global standards.
The new UP charter spells out the purposes of the university. Some of these purposes are the following:
- Lead as a public service university by providing various forms of community, public, and volunteer service, as well as scholarly and technical assistance to the government, the private sector, and civil society while maintaining its standards of excellence;
- Protect and promote the professional and economic rights and welfare of its academic and non-academic personnel
- Provide opportunities for training and learning in leadership, responsible citizenship, and the development of democratic values, institutions and practice through academic and non-academic programs, including sports and the enhancement of nationalism and national identity;
- Provide democratic governance in the University based on collegiality, representation, accountability, transparency and active participation of its constituents.
In effect, the university is expected to impart to you such values as academic excellence, public service, responsible citizenship, democratic values, promotion and protection of workers rights, leadership, transparency, accountability, participation and of course enhancement of nationalism and our national identity.
Your stay in the university will provide you opportunities to learn these values; inside and outside the classroom. If you are lucky, you will learn these through the examples set by your professors and the university administrators. But you will also learn that, in many instances, you have to struggle for the realization of these values when your professors and the university administrators fail to live up to these.
This is contradiction Number 4: The democratic and participatory values enshrined in the UP charter and the university’s actual practice
I can assure you, that given our times and given these contradictions, your life in the university will never be a boring one. Many of your courses in the University may help you to develop and sharpen your analytical skills when you discuss the roots and the ramifications of the above contradictions. Various student organizations in the campus will provide you with the network and the activities to expose you to diverse experiences and new ideas and train you for leadership. But in addition to the analytical skills and the ability to think critically as young citizens and future leaders of our country, I hope you develop in UP a clear standpoint for our people and for our country: ang paninindigan para sa bayan at para sa mamamayan, for academic excellence divorced from a standpoint for our people betrays the essence of your being Iskolar ng Bayan.
Umaasa ako na sa susunod na mga taon ninyo sa ating unibersidad, sa UP nating mahal, matutunan ninyo at maipakita sa gawa ang tunay na katuturan ng pagiging Iskolar ng Bayan.
Iskolar ng Bayan, paglingkuran ang sambayanan!
Iskolar ng Bayan, ngayon ay lumalaban!
Maraming salamat at mabuhay kayo!