Filipina/o American Youth & Students Stand in Solidarity with the December 1 Nationwide Student Protest in the Philippines Against Education Budget Cuts
Reference: Ryan Leano, Secretary General, SanDiwa National Alliance of Fil-Am Youth
November 28, 2010
In the past days the Philippines has seen numerous class walkouts and campus strikes as thousands of students, professors, and school administrators express their outrage over planned budget cuts for state universities and colleges (SUCs). Filipina/o Americans stand in solidarity with the youth in the Philippines as they wage larger protests and intensify the fight for greater state subsidy for education.
The Aquino government proposes to cut a total of P1.1B ($25 million) from the operations budget of 97 SUCs in the country while refusing to designate a single centavo to the construction of new buildings and facilities. Student financial assistance is also being cut by 43%. On the other hand, the government plans to increase the military budget from P96.2B ($2.2 billion) to P104.7B ($2.4 billion).
These budget allocations mirror the Aquino government’s blatant and insensitive disregard for the plight of the Filipino youth. As a consequence of these cuts, state universities and colleges will raise tuition and other school fees, making it even more difficult for youth in the Philippines to attain higher education. Currently 4,000 Filipinos leave the country everyday, and tuition hikes will only exacerbate the situation. A Filipino migrant herself, Aurora Victoria David of Stanford University’s Pilipino American Student Union states,“These budget cuts reveal the Aquino government’s skewed priorities, in which public education receives little importance. This further aggravates poverty and forces Filipinos out of their home country.”
As in the Philippines in recent years, there has been a precipitous rise in tuition at universities and colleges in the U.S. In July 2009, the California State University (CSU) system increased student fees by 20% and did not accept applicants for the Winter 2010 and Spring 2010 terms. More recently, in November 2010, the CSU approved another 15% increase in undergraduate fees. After raising undergraduate fees by 32% in November 2009, the University of California (UC) Board of Regents passed an additional 8% tuition increase this past November. In 2009, the City University of New York (CUNY) system cut $51 million from its budget as part of the governor’s plan to address the state’s financial crisis. In November 2010, the CUNY Board of Trustees approved a 5% tuition increase in the Spring 2011 semester and a 2% tuition increase in Fall 2011. Like the Philippine government, the U.S. government slaughters the educational budget in an attempt to save the fractured economy. As priorities switch from funding education to focusing on the military and prison, students face an academically barren future.
Neo-liberal globalization and imperialist policies have led to the current economic and education crises, which have fed the people’s indignation over the commodification of education. Mass actions have been executed not only in the Philippines but also the in the U.S. and other parts of the world. On March 4, 2010, youth, students, parents, and concerned faculty in the U.S. took to the streets and conducted teach-ins in several schools, universities and cities throughout the country to address budget cuts. In November of 2009, massive workers-supported student strikes took place throughout Europe. 250,000 people mobilized throughout Germany against tuition increases and curriculum revisions. Students in Austria and Scandinavia denounced the bail-out of banks and held walk-outs and “university occupations” in resistance to the commercialization of education by the European Union. Students in the Asia Pacific–especially in Indonesia, India and Korea–also condemned the worsening condition of the youth due to state abandonment of education.
Filipina/o American youth and students understand the outrage and the need for action with regard to education in the Philippines and around the globe. We salute our kababayans in the Philippines for their passionate efforts to address the same issues we face in education. Alex Montances of Anakbayan Los Angeles states, “The education of our nation’s youth must be geared towards serving the Philippines and its people rather than the dictates of foreign business and U.S. imperialism. If the Filipino people have limited access to a decent education today, then millions will suffer through unemployment, poverty, and hunger tomorrow.”
Let these campus strikes and rallies serve as warnings to those who deny the youth their right to a quality and affordable education. In the face of the state disregarding their rights, the youth collectively rise up to defend what is theirs. We, the Filipina/o American youth and students, stand in strong solidarity with our kababayan in the Philippines on the December 1, 2010 national protest against slashing the education budget.
NO TO BUDGET CUTS!
EDUCATION IS A RIGHT, NOT A PRIVILEGE!
SanDiwa National Alliance of Fil-Am Youth
Anakbayan New York/New Jersey
Anakbayan East Bay
Anakbayan San Diego
Anakbayan Los Angeles
League of Filipino Students, San Francisco State University
Pilipino American Student Union, Stanford University
Philippine Forum, New York
Philippine Forum, New Jersey
Active Leadership to Advance the Youth (ALAY), San Francisco
Kappa Psi Epsilon, San Francisco State University
Pilipino American Collegiate Endeavor, San Francisco State University
American Pin@y Organization of the Youth (APOY), New Jersey