Tragic death over university fees

Student commits suicide after she couldn't come up with the money to register for university. I understand it can be real sad if you can't get what you want, but never that I thought people would go to such extend.


Tragic death over university fees
Source: TheStar Online, 25/05/2008

IF the crucial information on education loans were there, 18-year Sukchaya Kaewsomchart would probably not have committed suicide when she was just days away being a freshman at the Silpakorn University.

Sukchaya hanged herself at her home in Sing Buri on May 17 - the day she was supposed to register as a student at the university. She couldn't come up with the money needed for the registration fee. Sad and heartbroken at her predicament, she took her own life.

Her tragic death jolted the entire nation and forced the country's education planners to take more seriously the providing of financial aid and counselling for students from poor families .

One can't help but wonder if a better information system could help keep hopes alive for people like Sukchaya.

Yes, all universities, like government agencies, have websites. But a vast majority of these sites seems to care more about promoting their activities rather than putting the needs of students first.

Few university officials could give a clear explanation as to what potential students from poor families should do if their families could not pay fees required on registration day. Even at a state university, such fees can still be well over 5,500 baht (RM553).

Sukchaya had already passed all the necessary tests to be a Silpakorn University student, but she just didn't have money to follow through with her dream.

Sadly, in an age where there is plenty of information at our fingertips, it is unthinkable that something like this could happen.

Sukchaya's untimely death should have been prevented, and it could have been prevented.

In fact, all universities have scholarships for needy students. But bureaucratic red tape requires that they be admitted as a student first. The government does have student loan funds to help children who want to continue their education.

“There appears to be a gap,” student loan fund manager Thada Martin said, pointing out that his office could only reach out to students who had already registered themselves as students.

Right after Sukchaya's suicide, deputy education minister Boonlue Prasertsopha immediately instructed the office of higher education commission (OHEC) to ensure that such a tragic case never happens again.

Information is clearly the key. Who knows how many children have lost their opportunity – in Sukchaya's case, her life – simply because they don't know how to access the financial help for their higher education?

It was only after Sukchaya's suicide received widespread news coverage that some other cash-strapped children stepped forward and publicly asked for help.

Some of them are on the verge of losing their chance of becoming engineering and medical students.

Although they are academically bright, their parents do not have enough money to pay for higher education.

“We now establish a centre to help children who don't have the money to qualify for registration,” OHEC secretary-general Sumet Yamnoon said.

Sumet said the centre is ready to help students cope not just with registration expenses but also relevant travel costs.

“Students can also contact the universities of their choices directly,” Sumet said.

Chiang Mai University president, Pongsak Angkasith said he believed all universities could extend help to needy children who came forward.


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