House panel OKs bill allowing students to take exams despite unpaid school fees

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 19 2022 03:35 PM
Students attend their class at the Payatas B Elementary School in Quezon City on the first day of face-to-face classes in all levels, August 22, 2022. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The House Committee on Higher and Technical Education on Monday approved a bill that would allow students to take their exams despite having unpaid school fees.

The panel approved amendments to the original bill filed by Kabataan party-list which seeks to penalize the "no permit, no exam" policy or any rule that prohibits students from taking their periodic or final examinations due to unpaid tuition and other fees.

The bill will cover private schools since public schools and colleges are covered by the government.

"It is understandable that you have students or parents who cannot pay on time, especially when the schedules of exams are fast approaching," Kabataan Rep. Raoul Manuel told the panel when he sponsored the measure.

Manuel's House Bill 1160 originally sought to declare the following as unlawful acts.

• Disallowing students with due and unpaid tuition and other school fees from taking the midterm or final examination

• Requiring students to secure a permit to take the midterm or final examination the school authorities prior to the administration of midterm periodic or final examination

• Compelling students to pay upon enrollment a downpayment or first installment equivalent to more than thirty percent (30%) of the total amount of tuition and other school fees for the entire semester or duration of the course

The original proposal sought to penalize any school official or employee, including deans, coordinators, advisers, professors, instructors, and other concerned individuals found guilty of violating any of the unlawful acts with a fine of not less than P20,000 but not more than P50,000.

It would also penalize any school administration found guilty of violating any of the unlawful acts enumerated with a fine of not less than P100,000 but not more than P1 million.

Committee chairman Mark Go backed the bill.

"Ang personal opinion ko rito dapat talaga we allow students to take their exams even if they have not fully paid their tuition," Go said.

Meanwhile, some schools tried to insist on their right to impose the policy as a means of ensuring that students pay so they can sustain their operations.

"Private institutions also must be allowed to require permits and clearances... We have to give the students the sense of accountability and responsibility and so with their parents to be reminded that when they send their students to private school, they also have the obligation to be conscious about their payables," said Association of Local Colleges and Universities executive director Raymundo Arcega.

"Kawawa din po kasi yung private kasi wala ho silang pinanggagalingan ng kanilang pinapasweldo sa kanilang mga teachers," Arcega also said.

(Private schools have no other source of salary for their teachers.)

Go countered there were other ways to guarantee payment without preventing students from taking exams.

"I myself being an owner of a private school, we experience that problem. What we do is we give the exam to the students but hold onto their credentials," added Batangas Rep. Maria Theresa Collantes.

As a compromise, Go offered to change the title and factor in all the inputs in crafting the bill that would be submitted to the whole House for action.

The bill was approved subject to style and amendments. A clean copy of the bill has not been released as of this time.


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