This is a speech I delivered earlier at the March for Education forum at the Tim Beaglehole Courtyard, Victoria University Wellington. Thanks to Sherbonn Ciceron for additional valuable inputs to this speech.
To my fellow students, a liberating afternoon to all of you.
As most of you may know or might have deduced, I’m a migrant student here at Victoria University. Just like most migrants from developing countries, I moved to New Zealand in 2013 with hopes of a better future. A better future that can be acquired through education.
Back in the Philippines, I could say that I was doing okay. I graduated with a degree from the country’s national [or premier state] university, which eventually landed me a good job. So yeah, you can say that I came to New Zealand quite well-off.
But most migrants do not enjoy the same position that I had. Most migrants, especially migrant families, come to New Zealand or any other host country laden with huge debts, debts that are so huge it would make you cry. But they hold on to their dreams of a better future. And in order to reach that dream, many of us migrants’ children must to work in while coming to school, especially tertiary education. There is the notion that the diploma that one will hold at the end of three or four years of tertiary education will not just put them in a better position to get a high-paying job. We believe that the diploma that will be holding dearly will be our ticket out of our miserable situation.
Yet, these migrants’ kids’ dreams of a better future through tertiary education is usually being killed by the double-headed monster we call rising university fees and student loans. Their families already laden with debt, these migrants have no choice but to take out massive student loans just to get through.
We migrants care for their education because we believe this is our ticket to a better future. But how can a future be a bright one if we are being dragged-back by a debt-laden past? Yes, we are grateful to New Zealand for giving us these opportunities, but we have to remember that education, including tertiary education, is a basic right to be enjoyed by every person in the world – migrant or not. And it is be the State’s responsibility to provide the means to enjoy this basic right – and it’s not happening right now. We demand to the next government to not abandon its responsibility of providing its people – migrant or not – accessible quality education, education that is nationalistic, scientific, and mass-oriented. Education that is centred on the needs of humanity and not on the needs of big businesses. Education that feeds it citizens both physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. Education that will make this nation greater that what it is now. Education that is a right (raise your right fist), has always been a right (stamp it), and always be a RIGHT (raise it higher) and MUST NEVER BE and WILL NEVER BE A PRIVILEGE.
And to my fellow migrants: do not be afraid to speak up. We must unite and consolidate our forces together with the rest of the students of New Zealand in demanding for quality education – a right that we should all enjoy as human beings. As I quote my friend Sherbonn Ciceron of the Philippines “If the Jesus of the Christians, Yeshua of the Jews and Isa of the Muslims, out of love for his Abba Father God, ‘…overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts’ (Mark 11:15-16) and never said sorry because he knows that he was fighting for what is right, WE, OUT OF LOVE FOR EDUCATION WE, OUT OF LOVE FOR OUR FAMILIES, WE TOO, WILL OVERTURN THE TABLES. WE TOO,WILL FIGHT FOR WHAT IS RIGHT. WE TOO, WILL FIGHT FOR WHAT IS RIGHT! AND WE WILL NOT BE SORRY!
Thank you very much.