“There is a need for us to express alarm, since this oppressive policy – which has already been the subject of congressional debates in the past – remains largely in place.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA — The “no permit, no exam” policy has been prohibited, said Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon yet his group has been receiving numerous complaints from parents and teachers about the continued implementation of the policy.
The “no permit, no exam” policy refers to the institutionalized rule in many schools and universities in the country that requires students to settle matriculation and other obligations before they are allowed to take their exams during midterms and finals.
As examination period approaches, Ridon said, their office has received various complaints from parents and students from all school levels – from private high schools in Laguna, to colleges in Mindanao. Ridon’s group had forwarded the complaints to concerned agencies.
“There is a need for us to express alarm, since this oppressive policy – which has already been the subject of congressional debates in the past – remains largely in place,” Terry Ridon said.
The policy puts heavy pressure on poor students who are forced to drop out of school for failing to pay their balance in tuition. Under the Aquino administration, five student suicides became big news, and werereportedly linked to the students’ poverty and inability to pay tuition.
Kabataan Partylist has been pushing for a law which penalizes the imposition of such policy. One of the first bills that Ridon filed was House Bill 1099, or the Anti-‘No Permit, No Exam’ Bill.
The HB 1099 was originally filed by Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raymond Palatino in the 15th Congress, and reached up to the third and final reading. However, it was not enacted into law due to the Senate’s failure to pass a counterpart bill.
A policy that is generally ignored
The Commission on Higher Education (Ched) prohibits schools from implementing a “no permit, no exam” policy.
Ridon said Ched Memorandum Order No. 9 (CMO 9-2013), which was issued in April 2013, states that “in no case shall the [higher education institution] implement a ‘no permit, no examination policy’ in case of financial incapacities of the stated students.”
However, Ridon noted that the memorandum was ineffective.
“What the Ched guideline lacks is a provision that concretely explains how the prohibition of the ‘no permit, no exam’ policy will be implemented and monitored. Without that, the policy is another useless paper tiger that schools will only ignore. That is precisely what is happening now,” Ridon said.
CMO 9 states that the Ched would implement “mechanisms for regular monitoring and evaluation” of compliance by schools, yet, Ridon said, the provision does not elaborate on how exactly the commission would ensure that colleges and universities nationwide will follow the new guidelines.
Meanwhile, in basic education, the existing Department of Education (DepEd) memorandum order regarding the “no permit, no exam” policy – DO 15, series 2010 does not actually prohibit schools from imposing such policy.
DO 15-2010 states, “In the same manner that private schools have imposed only modest or no tuition fee increases due to current economic difficulties, these schools should be more considerate of students with unpaid fees owing to family hardships and allow them to take their exams. On the other hand, parents of students with outstanding accounts should recognize their financial obligations and arrange with the school administration the terms for the eventual settlement of such obligations.”
Ridon called the DepEd memorandum as “very weak,” and had actually been ignored by schools. “There is a need for Congress to pass a law banning this policy,” he added.
In spite of efforts by the Kabataan Party-list, the proposed HB 1099 was not tackled during the 16th Congress by the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture and the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education.
“There is a need for advocates and the general public to push harder for this bill to be passed, especially as unscrupulous school owners continue to implement the ‘no permit, no exam’ policy,” Ridon said.