Bayan By Meg Sales “Iskolar ng bayan” are words which will forever be linked to each one of us studying here in this university. They are usually just accepted by students absent-mindedly, without truly understanding the weight of being an “iskolar ng bayan”. Usually, for most people, what it means to be an “iskolar ng bayan” is simply to be a student in the state university, the premier university in the country.
However, that meaning is not all there is to it; it’s the tip of the iceberg to what an “isko/iska” stands for. What most people forget is that the term “iskolar ng bayan” is actually a literal description of what UP students are; we are scholars of the country. Here in UP, we often see students fight and protest for a higher budget for education from the government because this would directly affect every single one of us iskos and iskas.
A part of the annual education budget of the country is meant to subsidize our UP tuition. The relatively low tuition fee here in UP is due to the fact that our government pays for some chunk of our supposed tuition; therefore what we have to pay for ourselves is a lower fee. However, looking at things in perspective, it is not really the government that subsidizes us. The money of the government comes from the Filipino people, our countrymen, so we owe our education to them.
Their money is used to allow us to study here, therefore we are their scholars; we are scholars of our countrymen and of our country, hence the term “iskolars ng bayan”. With that in mind, we have to remember that it is not only our parents’ money that is wasted every time we skip our classes, every time we fail our exams, or every time we have to retake our subjects. We may not feel guilty for wasting our parents’ money, but we should keep in mind that we are also wasting our fellow Filipino’s money.
For example, our tuition may have been partly paid by a hardworking father, who does his job faithfully and honestly every day, but the salary he is able to take home to his family is not enough because tax was deducted from it, tax which was used for government subsidy of UP students. Instead of being able to provide his family with enough to eat, his money went to us, to be able to pay for our tuition. We should at least have the decency to be ashamed of wasting the money given to us, mandatorily, by our countrymen. This is the reason hy UP wants the “cream of the crop”, the best students in the country, because they wouldn’t want to waste the Filipinos’ money. They know that with good students, the things taught in the classroom would not stay in the classroom, but would stick to the students’ minds. UP wants to produce graduates with honor and excellence. It is better if we all realize this at once, so we don’t call ourselves “iskos and iskas” just to say we are one of the best students this country has. Let’s live up to that name, to being “iskolars ng bayan”, and living up to it doesn’t stop once we have graduated.
It is important to remember that our country has invested in us by allowing us to be scholars. They expect a return of their investment. Let’s make their investment worth it. They are paying for our education so we could hopefully make their quality of life better, so we could make this country better. That is the real gravity of the responsibility of each iskolar ng bayan. It is far more important than just doing well in school and getting high grades. Being an “iskolar ng bayan” is taking what you learn in the classroom and using them to return the favor given to us by our countrymen.