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Kristel Tejada case: UPM’s side of the story

MANILA, March 30 — On March 16, 2013 news about a 16-year old girl who committed suicide because she cannot pay her tuition fees spread like wildfire in the country.

Kristel Tejada,was the name of the girl. She was a behavioral science freshman in the University of the Philippines, Manila.

She dreamed of finishing college and helping her family, but, this went all to waste when her family had monetary difficulties and could not pay her tuition fee.

She applied for student loans but was not granted. After that she was forced to file a leave of absence which she did not take very well.

On March 15, 2013 at around 3 a.m., she drank a silver cleaner in their house in Tondo, Manila, reports said.

Dr. Anthony Leachon, spokesperson of UPM answered in an e-mail that before Kristel’s death, Pres. Alfredo Pascual discussed the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP) reforms and mandated to all chancellors that “no UP student shall be deprived of education for financial reasons or related to lack of tuition fee.”

After this, on March 19, 2013, Pascual lifted the “no late payment policy” of the University allowing students an ample amount of time for registration and payment of fees due to the issues concerning late tuition fees.

“Any student with financial constraints will no longer have any problems with regard to tuition fee payment deadlines," he said in his administrative order.

UPM officials and UP officials mourned the death of Kristel, Leachon said.

“It is unfortunate that this tragedy happened a day after I instructed the Chancellors of all UP units at our council meeting held March 14, 2013 that we should not deny access to qualified students who cannot enroll because of financial constraints,” Pascual said in his final statement.

“To think also that the reforms I have been pushing since I took office to simplify STFAP application process and increase the financial aid for poor students are already planned for Board of Regents action next month,” he added. (PNA)

HBC/PDN

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