Free college discourages youth to join armed struggle

By Edwin Fernandez

September 2, 2017, 5:27 pm

MAKILALA, North Cotabato -- A local official here said a locally-funded learning institution recognized by the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) can be an antidote to teenagers against joining armed struggle to fight the government.

Mayor Rudy Caoagdan of Makilala, North Cotabato, said the institution, the first locally-funded free college, will help discourage its students from joining the communist movement.

Ched 12 Director Maximo C. Aljibe said Ched, in an en banc session in July, passed a resolution recognizing and approving all the curriculum of Makilala Institute of Science and Technology (MIST).

On August 28, Caoagdan and Aljibe installed Dr. Gerard Rigonan as the first MIST president.

Makilala, one of the 17 towns of North Cotabato, has been listed as among the hotspots and breeding areas of communist insurgents.

"To discourage the youth from joining rebel movement, you must educate them and give them the information they need to be empowered," Caoagdan said during the investiture program.

To date, MIST has at least 1,400 enrollees and its maintenance and operating expenses are funded by the local government of Makilala. The local government provided an annual budget of P10-million for MIST.

The Ched regional director lauded the local government, headed by Caoagdan, for pushing for the establishment of first free college educational institution five years ago.

Caoagdan said a local ordinance has been passed to ensure continuity of the tertiary school and can not be disrupted by change in local government leadership.

He stressed that when he started the idea of coming up with an LGU-funded college, his political rivals criticized him.

The mayor said when he is out of office, the new official cannot order the school’s closure because a local law exists.

According to Caoagdan, about 80 percent of high school graduates in Makilala stopped schooling after graduation due to poverty. With the availability of free college education, many are expected to become professionals and become productive citizens of Makilala.

“Where will our children go after high school,” he asked. “Abroad as domestic workers? Construction workers or jobless or worst they may end up joining the New Peoples Army.” (PNA)