Students, faculty, and academic employees led by Anakbayan and the Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (STAND-UP) today noontime rocked the University of the Philippines Board of Regents (BOR) with protests at the administration building Quezon Hall against what they called neoliberal “reforms” of the university’s General Education program.

“The reduction of the GE program as an issue is not exclusive to UP alone. Along with the K-12 program, it represents the intensifying restructuring of Philippine education to further cater to the needs of transnational corporations for cheap and docile Filipino labor,” said UPD University Student Council Officer Ben Te.

The BOR is the premier state university’s highest decision-making body, which is holding its regular meeting today to discuss, among others, moves to reduce the minimum number of GE units from the current 45 to only 21 units. The protesters condemned this move as part of the sellout of UP and education to the dictates of the global market.

The student leader said the latest changes in the GE program is part of “reform packages” pushed by foreign multilateral institutions like the International Monetary Fund-World Bank in its drive towards the internationalization of higher education to align it to the needs of big business. “There is no art or science in neoliberalism,” he said.

Apart from restructuring universities like UP to produce a reserve army of semi-skilled and skilled workers needed by foreign companies, Te added that the curricular changes under the rubric of internationalization also means to smoothen the entry of foreign corporations seeking to enter the local market through “partnerships” and “joint programs” with local schools.

UPD University Student Council Officer Shari Oliquino meanwhile said that the GE “reforms” must be contextualized in the larger picture of the Duterte administration’s continued adherence to the neoliberal policies of past presidents. She said it fits well with Duterte’s overall program of cuts in state subsidy for education and the continued deregulation of tuition and other fees.

“As President Duterte intensifies the inflicting of state violence and fascism against the people through its anti-poor war on drugs and all-out war against people’s movements, our curriculum is also being restructured to further separate us youth from social realities and prevent us from thinking critically about injustices and oppression,” said Oliquino.

Anakbayan National Chairperson Vencer Crisostomo said the GE “reforms” intensifies the colonial, commercialized, and fascist orientation of Philippine education. He called on iskolars ng bayan and the Filipino youth to join the struggles of the Filipino people, fight for a nationalist, scientific, and mass-oriented education and for genuine social change.

 

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