CHR urged to look into harassment vs students

(The Freeman) – April 29, 2020 – 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Youth and student organizations are asking the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to intervene on the reported cases of student repression in various universities and colleges across the country.

The Samahan ng ProgresibongKabataan (SPARK) and the Student Solidarity Network to Survive COVID-19 (SSN), a coalition of student councils, governments, and campus organizations, want the CHR to look into the alleged violations committed by several school administrators because of “imprudent continuation of online classes” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We call on the CHR to step in and stand for student rights and welfare. School administrations across the country have proven time and again that their standard response to our legitimate concerns are coercion and repudiation,” Jason Anchores, SSN Spokesperson, said in a statement sent to The Freeman.

Cases ranging from lack of consultations to mocking of student leaders to threats of expulsion by school administrations are allegedly happening in various colleges and universities nationwide.

The groups also blasted the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) for its continued silence on the matter.

“CHEd’s refusal to even comment about the piling cases reported in multiple schools just adds to their refusal to issue a memo suspending online classes, in proving that they only serve the interests of capitalist-educators,” John Lazaro, SPARK national spokesperson, said.

“The fact that we need to resort to the CHR should be a damning indictment of CHEd’s resounding failure to step in for students, but knowing CHEd, they likely won’t even care one bit,” he added.

The groups lamented that the CHEd not only implemented a policy of devolution and deregulation but also gave universities a free hand to harass students.

SSN also announced that it would be opening a complaint desk on its Facebook page for students to report cases of abuse and harassment by their school administrations. They have also called on law students to volunteer their services for their fellow students.

SPARK likewise encouraged students to speak up to put an end to draconian measures infused in school manuals and other campus abuses.

“Hopefully, with this avenue open, we can consolidate the reports of student repression across different universities, find common threads between them, and fight back against draconian school administrations,” Anchores stated, adding that they hoped to partner with the CHR to process complaints.

SSN has also released an online petition calling for the immediate suspension of online classes, currently at over 15,000 signatures.

“The widespread character of student repression despite the global pandemic reveals a crucial fact about our education system: that the main concern is not conducive learning nor students’ welfare, but profit,” Lazaro claimed.

SPARK and SSN are among multiple groups pushing for six key student demands, including giving general passing grades to all students, a moratorium on all tuition and miscellaneous fees, the retention of scholarships, refunding all unused fees, compensation of all school personnel for the duration of the lockdown, and for school administrators to provide financial assistance to all school personnel and students who have contracted COVID-19.—PR/FPL (FREEMAN)



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