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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Unibersidad ng Pilipinas: Ang Pamantasan ng Totoong Buhay

Ang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas daw ang isa sa pinakamaganda at pinakamataas ang kalidad ng edukasyon sa ating bansa. Ito ang huling sandigan ng mga matatalinong mag-aaral pero mahirap at salat sa buhay upang makamtan ang kanilang mga pangarap. Subalit paano nga ba kung pati ang sinasabing paaralang pangmasa ay isa na ring pamahalaan para sa mga may kaya sa buhay? Saan pa sasandig ang mga estudyante.

Narito ang isang kwento na natanggap ko sa aking e-mail na nagsasaad at naglalarawan ng karaniwang sitwasyon sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas....

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.

NOLI N. REYES, professor, Institute of Mathematics, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City

From http://yoopee. multiply. com/journal/ item/3254/ ANG_PAMANTASAN_ NG_TOTOONG_ BUHAY_-_UP

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