Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero (File photo) 

MANILA – Senator Francis Escudero on Wednesday asked his colleagues to pass Senate Bill No. 1359, which prohibits the “no permit, no exam” policy which, he said, is the cruelest of fines being imposed by some educational institutions.

SB 1359 or an “Act prohibiting the no permit no exam policy” per committee report No. 6, also prohibits the imposition of any policy that prevents students enrolled in public or private schools from taking examinations or any form of educational assessment for reasons of outstanding financial or property obligations such as unpaid tuition and other school fees, he said.

“By any moral yardstick, forcing a student to forfeit an exam is the cruelest of fines. It triggers a chain of events that is sometimes life-altering for the student, for the worse, not only of denied diplomas but also of dead dreams,” Escudero said in his sponsorship speech.

Under Section 6 of the proposed bill, the following prohibits acts committed by any educational institution -- requiring any student to secure a permit to take an examination or any form of education assessment from the school authorities prior to the administration of such examination or assessment; compelling any student or his or her parents or legal guardians to pay a portion of the outstanding financial or property obligations prior to the administration of any examination or assessment; or imposing fines, penalties or interests on outstanding financial or property obligations in excess of the prescribed maximum interest.

Under Section 4 of the proposed measure, it states that unless waived by the educational institutions concerned, the outstanding financial or property obligations shall bear an interest rate not exceeding six percent per annum computed from the date of the examination taken by the students until the date when such obligations are paid.

The penal provision of the bill states that teachers would not be included in any charges to be filed. Only the school management will be held liable.

The penalty ranges from PHP20,000 to PHP50,000 for every violation.

Escudero clarified that SB 1359 does not mandate tuition forgiveness as it does not erase a student’s debt to schools. It only calls for the deferment of its payment while the student is allowed to take the examination.

To guarantee that financial obligations are settled, the educational institution may withhold the release or issuance of grades, diplomas or certificates; refuse to issue applicable clearances; or deny enrolment.

“Curriculum is not the only thing ladderized in our schools -- matriculation, too. Sadly, many students fall from the rungs, not because they do poorly in class, but because they are poor in life. The involuntary dropping out happens when tuition and other school fees are not paid on time. And often, the penalty for that failure is that the student is prohibited from taking the examination,” Escudero said. (With a report from Leonel Abasola/PNA)