Congress should look into the case of a 16-year old UP Manila Behavioral Science freshman who reportedly committed suicide because she could not pay her tuition fees, a lawmaker today said.
“What is happening to the UP system? If the report is true, it’s time to review the system which could now be deviating from its reason for being – to afford quality education to poor but deserving students,” Western Samar Congressman Mel Senen Sarmiento said.
“This is a sad reflection of our public education system especially for UP which was established precisely to cater to poor but intelligent students,” he added.
The student, Kristel Tejada, a 16 year old freshman of BA Behavioral Sciences in UP Manila, was declared dead-on-arrival early Friday morning at the Metropolitan Medical Center (MMC) after she reportedly committed suicide at her family’s residence in Tondo, Manila.
A media account said that the student committed suicide a few days after filing for a leave of absence (LOA) last March 13.
The victim was reportedly assigned to the Bracket D of the socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP) where students payP300 per unit, or around P7,500.00 for a semester with 18 units, including miscellaneous fees.
“It was reported that the victim had filed for re-bracketing but the results of her appeal will not take effect until the next academic year, her program adviser reportedly explained,” Sarmiento said.
The student had been forced to file for LOA because she could not afford to pay her tuition and her request for a tuition loan has been denied by the UPM loan board, said quoting media accounts.
“I think that there should be a need to review the various student assistance programs available to our UP students. We should simplify the system without jeopardizing financial prudence,” Sarmiento pointed out.
Reports also said that the UPM administration barred students who failed to pay tuition on time from being admitted to their classes.
However, following a dialogue with UPM officials, the students were eventually allowed to attend their classes.
“But, according to reports, some students had already been forced to file for a LOA as directed by the Office of the Student Regent,” Sarmienti said.
“After what happened, are we going to let this incident go to the dust bin of history and just forget?” he asked.