The man in front of the computer was whistling a happy tune, but Brandon’s heart wasn’t pumping a rhythmic beat. As the man handed him his printed papers, Brandon felt his heart drop as he looked at the amount printed in bold, black ink at the bottom of the page. It was enrolment day; he had just got his subjects assessed and validated by his college. The paper handed to him was the form for payment which displayed his total tuition fees for the semester.
What an amount to pay for just a couple of units, he muttered to himself. He was studying in a public school were tuition was subsidized by the government but the fees he pay were still too high for what he can afford.
He makes his way to the cashier’s office, counting and recounting his recently withdrawn money to make sure they were enough and exact for payment. Upon reaching the office and finding a stream of students, his eyes wandered to a huge plastered sign sprawled to his side, directing students like him to the miscellaneous queue. Underneath the bold print were words like dorm fees, lab and library fees and more, screaming at him and making his heart sink even lower. His mind were occupied with thoughts about daily transportation fares he’s going to have to pay, the food he’s going to eat, the school supplies he’s going to provide. And buying a uniform too, he thought.
As he takes his spot on the long line to pay his tuition, he looks back at the miscellaneous fees queue and thinks to himself with a resigned look, “Is education now a privilege?”
Brandon’s experiences are something unrare. These situations and stories happen more often than we believe, prompting the debate as to whether education in our country is a right or a privilege.
It’s June once again, the month of weddings, of Father’s days and beginnings of school. School commencing would mean enrolment and enrolment would also mean money.
High Cost of Education = Out of School Youths?
According to recent figures by the National Statistics Office (NSO) and Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS), a steady growth of percentage of out-of-school youths was listed from 2000-2011, with over 6.24 million youths out of school, or 16% of the country’s 39 million Filipinos in the age bracket between six and 24.
Aside from geographical and temporal reasons, one of the most cited reasons for this increase was the high cost of education. Moreover, the NSO’s 2014 Report of the Country’s Figures listed more than 23 million of the population as no more than elementary undergraduates, with 3 million having no education at all.
That is why in these times, government bodies and non-governmental organizations have conducted programs to help. Various scholarships are now made able to deserving youth, offering several chances for qualification. But there is one non-governmental organization that has taken steps higher than the others.
The Members Church of God International, through UNTV 37, the country’s public service channel, has established a college wherein free education is one of its services.
With campuses in Pampanga and Caloocan, La Verdad Christian College (LVCC) leads as the country’s first private institution wherein aside from free tuition, other expenses such as uniform, food and lodging fees are shouldered entirely by the school. This is inspired by Bro. Eli Soriano and Kuya Daniel Razon’s advocacy of helping poor but deserving students to earn their college degrees.
La Verdad Christian College is the first private institution in the country that offers free education along with free meals, uniforms, books and even lodging.
Video Courtesy: youtube.com/untvweb
“It’s a very good feeling to know that God has given us instruments in doing good — those who help the youth like me to be able to study. That is wy I thank God for Bro. Eli and Kuya Daniel for giving us the chance to go to college despite the lack of our financial ability,” says Kim Santiago, a Second Year AB Broadcasting student from LVCC Caloocan Branch.
“Here in La Verdad, aside from availing of the free services the school offers, we are being taught to excel academically and spiritually,” says Maryjane Largueza, a recent graduate of AB-Broadcasting in LVCC Caloocan Campus. “LVCC not only aims to produce capable students but also good citizens of the country. I am proud to be a LaVerdarian, and I am grateful to God and Bro. Eli and Kuya Daniel, because without them, this will not be possible.”
Aside from offering kindergarten until secondary schooling, LVCC also offers Bachelor degrees in nursing, computer technology, mass communications, culinary and many more. Moreover, extensive training and career opportunities are also given to students during their stay at the college with help of partner groups such as UNTV.
A shot of one of the main buildings of La Verdad
Christian College in Apalit, Pampanga.
Photo Courtesy: Rovic Balunsay of Photoville International
First established in 2009, the two campuses are always being improved and maintained by its administration. Citing Bro. Soriano in a speech during the inauguration of the LVCC Branch in Caloocan, he says, “We have spent much to establish this school, and much is to be spent still to sustain it. But we do not look at the amount, just as it is written in the Bible,” adding that, “This is our mandate from knowing the truth in the Bible. Students do not owe this to us. They owe it to God.”