By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – A piece of good news to parents and students: the bill banning the ‘no permit, no exam” policy in schools was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives this week, Aug. 4.
Students who cannot pay their tuition in time can now take their exams. “This is good news as the examination period draws near,” said Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino, the main author of House Bill 4791.
“The giant leap in our campaign against the ‘no permit, no exam’ was made due to the unity of students and parents and the quick action of Congress that facilitated the passage of the bill into law. This is good news and it sends a message to schools to desist implementing the ‘no permit, no exam’ policy,” said Palatino.
Students with pending arrears are usually barred from taking examinations which may cause them to fail the subject or experience humiliation, Palatino said.
Under HB 4791, all students of vocational schools, public and private colleges and universities, shall be allowed to take midterms and final examinations even if they have unpaid financial obligations to the school.
Schools are also not allowed to compel students to cough up upon enrollment a down payment or first installment equivalent to more than 30 percent of the total amount of the tuition and other school fees for the entire semester or duration of the course.
“The bill is clear in its principle that no student shall be barred from taking his/her examination because of unpaid fees. Students should be able to focus on studying for their examinations and not worrying if they cannot pay the school fees on time,” Palatino said.
The students or their parent, on the other hand, shall pay an interest for the unpaid tuition and other school fees which shall not be more than six percent per annum computed from the date of the examination taken by the students until the date when the overdue and unpaid tuition and other school fees are fully paid.
As a safety net, aside from charging six percent interest to the unpaid tuition fees, schools may also withhold the records of students but should release them once the pending arrears are settled.
It is now up to the Senate to adopt the bill before being handed to the President for signing. Palatino explained that while the bill is still on its way to finally becoming a law, students and parents can already invoke Section 99 Article 20 of the Manual of Private Schools that disallows the ‘no permit, no exam’ policy.
“The need for the bill’s immediate passage arises because many schools are able to implement the ‘no permit, no exam policy’ despite existing guidelines. Once the bill becomes a law, violators can be censured and fined up to P50,000 ($1,190),” Palatino said.