Calls to increase the budget of state universities and colleges have risen in pitch and frequency after another college student killed herself over her unpaid tuition in Cagayan.
Two weeks before the second death anniversary of Kristel Tejada, Rosanna Sanfuego, 16, a freshman student of the Cagayan State University (CSU), was found dead on Feb. 27, 2015 in Abulug town in Cagayan. Sanfuego had reportedly decided to stop her studies because she was unable to take her exams due to unpaid fees.
Kristel, a University of the Philippines student, had also committed suicide over money woes two years ago.
Kristel and Rosanna represent thousands of government scholars who, despite the government claim that SUCs are properly funded and have ample budgets, are faced with high miscellaneous fees they can’t afford.
Responding to charges that the Aquino administration has not been giving the SUCs their due since 2010, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad noted that the budget allotment for the country’s public tertiary education institutions has steadily risen by half.
“These misleading pronouncements are just a rehash of last year’s concerns on education budget cuts and they’ve already been disproven. The budget of SUCs has been increasing year-on-year, from P23.8 billion in 2010 to P43.3 billion in 2015,” he said.
This was challenged by Femie Galapon, National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) Cagayan Valley vice chairperson, who said that Sanfuego’s death revealed that Philippine education is commercialized and repressive.
“The Aquino government’s irresponsibility in providing free and quality education to all pushes the Filipino students and youth to abandon their dreams even to the point of taking their own lives,” Galapon said.
While CSU officials denied that Rossana’s suicide was due to unpaid tuition, it is imperative that authorities look into the reported high miscellaneous fees and other activities of students that call for extra expenditure.
(The author is a teacher at Gonzaga National High School in Cagayan)