Death: The Price of Education for Kristel Tejada

    When Kristel Tejada, a 16-year old freshman studying Behavioral Sciences in University of the Philippines Manila, committed suicide in their home in Tondo on March 15 by ingesting silver cleaner, an online backlash ensued as many voiced out their anger and disappointment at the circumstances surrounding the incident.

    Kristel Tejada, UP student commiitted suicide
    Photo: Kristel Tejada, UP student committed suicide
    Photo Credit: lifestyle.inquirer.net

    It was reported that Kristel Tejada took her life after she was forced to drop out of school when she could not pay her tuition for the second semester. This prompted youth groups and countless people on social media to voice out their anger and displeasure with the administration of UP Manila for this tragedy. Many were angry over the school’s “no late payment” policy as this forced Tejada to resort to taking her own life.
    The “no late payment” and “forced LOA (leave of absence) policies were implemented last year and many saw this as “anti-student”. Considering the UP Manila is a state university, youth groups and student organizations are against the implementation of these policies since they believe that education is a right. The implementation of these policies did not ease the financial burden experienced by many students and instead force students to drop out of school if they cannot pay their tuition.
    It was reported that according to Andrea Martinez, Tejada’s psychology professor, studying was her means of dealing with problems. It was her coping mechanism. So when she was forced to drop out of school because of financial constraints, it was enough for her to take her life. Did she do the right thing? Of course not. She should not have done what she did.

    But now that this tragedy happened, it opens a lot of questions.

    Did UP Manila, a state university, really have to force students into a corner with its “no late payment” and “forced leave of absence” policies? Does the government provide enough subsidies to state universities to avoid a similar tragedy from happening again? Was there really nothing that Tejada could have done to make ends meet? Was there nothing that could have been done to have prevented this tragedy?
    Nevertheless, many believe that the system killed Tejada. There was no choice for her, she either pay her tuition or stop studying. For Tejada, this was the last straw. Her forced leave of absence was symbolic to her dreams being shattered. And so, on that fateful Friday morning, the price of education for Kristel Tejada was death.
    Here is her suicide note written in red, which was found in her pocket:
    “Mahal na mahal ko ang pamilya ko. At lahat din ng iba pang nagmamahal sa akin. Di ko lang talaga rin kinaya. Sana mapatawad at ipagdasal niyo ko. Salamat sa lahat magkikita pa ulit tayo. Sorry pero kailangan ko lang talagang gawin to (I love my family very much. And all those who love me as well. I just can’t take it anymore. I hope that they will forgive me and pray for me. Thank you for everything, we will see each other again. Sorry but I really need to do this).”

    “Tandaan (Remember): Without true love, we’re nothing,” she wrote in her letter.

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