The collective sentiment and plea of the Iskolars of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines during their social media protest last March 13 to push their call #PUPIkalmaMo, is not just a challenge to the university’s current mode of “learning”, but it is most definitely a challenge pointed against the whole education system of the country. But before we fully proceed on calling out the entities that must be accountable for this crime against the youth’s right to education, we must first emphasize the actuality that this protest is a manifestation of the students’ truth, and most especially of their strength. And once again, these Iskolar ng Bayan will always prove to be a formidable foe against systematic oppression—and in this context, the fight is against a repressive and anti-democratic mode of education. This is the definitive strength of the student body and of their true democratic rights, but it is just the beginning as this is a fight against a systematic perpetuation of disenfranchising the poor and the less privileged of their right to receive quality education.
A day after the university-wide digital consultation supervised by Rise for Education (R4E)-PUP, that includes the ‘First Semester Assessment Drafting’ and ‘Student Consultation’; the urgent needs of the university’s students besiege their social media accounts, and a university-wide protest led by the different student formations and organizations in the university took place:
(1) The Extension of Semestral Break
(2) Extension and Consideration of Deadline for Academic Requirements
(3) Reduction of Academic Requirements
(4) 100% and Efficient Module Distribution Before the Start of the Second Semester
(5) No-Fail Policy
The ‘FlexTel’ program or “Flexible Technology Learning” of PUP did not live up to its name and it seems that it is not as flexible as what the university’s administration deemed it to be because majority of the university’s students are still left behind. Regardless of the mode of “learning” (correspondence and online), the very fabric of this program is a failure as it was not able to provide what it was asked for, education.
The whole first semester of the university is a bust, and now that the second semester is insolently approaching, the incompetency and failure of the whole academic year is to be expected. The arrogance of the state as to the context of how it is handling the COVID-19 pandemic is extending as to how the administration of the state university is handling its current academic year. It is just all talk and no substantial actions. And so, the former kills the Filipino people, while the latter makes its students suffer.
Specifically, there are still a lot of students who are under the ‘correspondence’ mode of “learning” that is yet to receive their learning modules for the first semester, and the second semester is already in sight. It is as if the university is expecting its students to finish a semester-worth of activity in one sitting, which is obviously an impossible feat. And by the way, even for those students who already got a hand on their modules, none of it came on time. So, the logic behind the urgency placed by the university to its students as to the deadline of finishing these modules is non-existent. It is either the administration of the university is really detached to the plight of their students, or just completely apathetic towards the real condition of their students and faculties.
The loose ends of the first semester are slowly convening to the start of the second semester. There are still a lot of uncompleted grades and pending academic requirements from the first semester. The reason for this delay is principally because of the consecutive suspension of classes last year because of the typhoons, which is not anyone’s fault and is not subject to anyone’s control. But even with this fact at hand, the university still tried to push through with its plan of finishing the semester in March, which placed a lot of pressure for the faculty to conduct and compress months-worth of classes and finish their lessons on a limited timeframe. And most especially, this also has a huge negative implication for the students who are expected to learn with a demand of urgency amidst a pandemic and relatively hard individual situations. The faculty, and above all, the students are already sacrificing their physical, mental, and emotional health just to finish the semester. And they are not even given their supposed time for rest and preparation to enter another. This current mode of “learning” in the university is slowly killing its faculty and its students, and it is too high on its horse to recognize its grave fault.
However, the university may not solely be at fault, the negligence is caused primarily by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the fascist regime of Rodrigo Duterte. The government agency and the government itself is a liability. The implementation of the ‘Blended Learning’ is continuously depriving the youth of their essential right to learn. This is a continuation of this administration’s incompetence, and trend of unjust and “Anti-poor” projects and policies. We must hold them accountable for this is a crime against the Filipino youth.
We will continue to fight for our right to quality, conducive, and inclusive education. This is our truth!
Now we, the students, and all the other victims of these repressive and anti-democratic education system, are placing pressure to the whole of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. Heed the call of your students!
#PUPIkalmaMo #ExtendTheSembreakPUP #ExtendDeadlinesPUP #OneHundredPercentModuleDistribution #AcademicReliefNOW #NoFailPolicy
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