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Student suicide prompts Caritas fund

Poor students to get aid as educators relax rules

Students blame government for death of Kristel Tejada (Photo by Rene Sandajan) Students blame government for death of Kristel Tejada (Photo by Rene Sandajan)
  • ucanews.com reporter, Manila
  • Philippines
  • March 25, 2013
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Caritas, the Catholic Church's social action arm, is to set up a fund for underprivileged students. 
Father Anton Pascual, executive director of Caritas Manila, made the announcement during the funeral Mass for Kristel Tejada, a 16-year-old student who committed suicide last week after her school allegedly barred her for failing to pay her tuition fees.
The Caritas Emergency Educational Fund, in memory of Tejada, will have an initial funding of P500,000 ($12,500), Pascual said. 
Tejada's death sparked outrage from various groups and prompted the University of the Philippines, the country's premier school, to lift its policy against late payments.
University president Alfredo Pascual vowed to ensure qualified students will not be denied education due to financial reasons, as he offered his "deepest condolences" to Tejada's family.
"Let us now look forward and turn our grief into a stronger resolve to address the concerns brought out by this tragedy," he said.
"The past few days have not been easy for us," he said. "The news of Kristel's untimely demise has divided us and this has saddened us more."
Representative Edgardo Angara, chairman of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education, said he will push for reforms in the education sector to benefit underprivileged students.
"What happened to Kristel Tejada should not happen. I am going to make it sure that that it won’t any more," Angara said, adding that only 15 percent of students coming from the poor sector of society manage to finish college.
Tejada died on March 15 and was laid to rest in Manila on Saturday. While the remains of people who commit suicide are not traditionally interred in Catholic cemeteries, Fr Pascual said the Church allowed it in Tejada's case out of "compassion."

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