UP high school closes in June?

CEBU, Philippines - Around 100 students and faculty members of the high school department of the University of the Philippines-Visayas Cebu College (UPVCC) gathered yesterday in protesting anew the department’s planned closure, which is set in June this year.
The memorandum, stating the closure effective June 2010, was reportedly issued by dean Enrique Avila early this month.
Avila also ordered the suspension of the acceptance of High School Admission Test (HSAT) applications for the school year 2010-2011.
But Ella Sarmago, vice chairperson of the UPVCC student council claimed that there was no proper consultation regarding the closure of the high school department.
“We are against the closure… Avila is just a dean and does not represent the body. UP high serves a laboratory for college,” she said.
Liezyl Gomez of Nagkahiusang Kusug sa Estudyante also added that the move of the UPVCC administration is a manifestation to intensify the commercialization of the university and aggravate the crisis in Philippine educational system.
She explained that Avila wanted to phase out the high school department to give way to a bigger budget for the college department. The high school department, she added, holds a 25 percent of the budget allocation from the government.
“So, para ma-adto ang budget na intended unta sa high school, gusto ni Avila
na modako ang budget sa Computer Science ug sa ubang courses,” Gomez said.
Students who joined the protest carried posters expressing their sentiments and wore blue ribbons pinned in their uniform.
In a two-page letter dated January 19 read by May Christina Bugah, faculty member of UP Cebu High School, it said that Rep. Pablo Garcia appealed to UP President Emerlinda Roman to rectify and clarify, for the benefit of high school students, faculty members, alumni and the Cebuano community to the seemingly unilateral actions of Avila, which have once again caused extreme confusion and anxiety among the stakeholders.
“Around March 24, 2009, we had a brief conversation on the phone during which you assured me and Governor Garcia that neither closure nor downsizing was going to be implemented then or in the near future,” the letter reads.
“You stated the UP would not resort to such radical measures without consulting the stakeholders, including the governor and myself. You will recall that both the City of Cebu, through the Sangguniang Panlungsod, and the Province of Cebu, through the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, had earlier passed resolutions urging the UP system to keep the high school open,” it further states.
Te letter also expressed surprise when Avila said that he was no longer in the position to sustain ably the implementation of the high school which pushed him to pronounce the death of a long standing institution and that the memoranda he issued did not cite authority upon which he based his order of suspension.
“This is serious, since under Section 17 of Republic Act No. 9500 (of which I am the principal author), the power to make changes in admission policy belongs to the University Council,” the letter read.
For his part, Manny Saler, president of Parent-Teacher Association said that Avila should be the one attending the protest to explain to UP community his campaign against UP high.
“Avila should be the one standing here, but where is he?” he said.
Moments later, when Avila together with other UPVCC officials, walked past through the protesting students to attend a conference, they were greeted by a resounding noise students shouting “UP High! UP High! UP High!”
It was later learned that Avila was attending a unite-wide meeting with college faculty members to discuss the plans for UPVCC to be constituent and autonomous university.
Avila, who made “unequivocal statements” against high school’s continued existence since 2008, said that protesting students and teachers are entitled in expressing their gripe over the proposal.
He emphasized that their plans and obligations should be accomplished.
“(We would have) gradual closing of UP high...next year wala na,” he said.
(Freeman)

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