Pampanga rep asks schools to lower fees in shift to blended learning
Taguig Sanitation Office sprays a disinfectant solution at bus terminals and schools to contain the possible spreading of COVID-19.
The STAR/Edd Gumban
Pampanga rep asks schools to lower fees in shift to blended learning
Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - June 18, 2020 - 4:53pm

MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker has asked schools, particularly private institutions, to lower their miscellaneous fees and consequently their tuition fees as a whole as students across the nation begin to adjust to online learning under the new normal. 

According to Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo (Pampanga), laboratory fees, library, medical and dental, information technology, audiovisual, athletics and insurance are still reportedly being charged by some schools despite the absence of face-to-face learning due to the community quarantine in place across the country.

One school even charged for drinking water, he said in a statement. 

RELATED: No face-to-face classes as Duterte OKs DepEd's 'blended' learning proposal | CHED asks universities not to collect fees during month-long quarantine

“My office has been receiving a lot of complaints saying their schools have been charging them for miscellaneous fees when there is no way the students will be able to make use of them under the new normal,” said Arroyo.

The Commission on Higher Education has urged institutions not to collect tuition fees and suspend penalties for late payments. 

"How could the students, who have to stay at home and use their own resources, avail of these services? One parent came to me and said they were being charged more than P19,000 for miscellaneous fees. This amount could be used to buy a tablet which would be the basic tool for this online learning,” he added.

This comes days after a 19-year-old junior high school student died by suicide in Albay, reportedly over anxiety on where to find the money to pay for his internet connection for school. 

Education Secretary Leonor Briones has said that under the department's new blended learning program, students do not have access to computers or the internet can also be reached via television or radio.

She was also careful to point out that a majority of respondents in a DepEd online survey said they were capable of accessing the internet.

In a statement, the National Federation of Peasant Women (Amihan) pointed out that all the modes included under blended learning involve the purchasing of gadgets, including smartphones, laptops, television sets and transistor radios, on top of the costs of internet connections, electricity and transportation. 

READ: Peasant group slams DepEd blended learning amid reports of suicide among rural youth

Duterte has said he believes the DepEd's proposal is workable.

“I humbly ask the schools to please understand the situation of the parents and the students. Waiving those miscellaneous fees would mean savings for the parents who could use the money for other incidental expenses they could incur under the online-learning,” said Arroyo.

“If face-to-face classes will resume within the school year, then by all means, charge the students with the corresponding fees. But for the meantime, please don’t slap them additional costs for any services they won’t be able to avail of under this set-up,” he added.

Classes for academic year 2020-2021 are set to begin on August 24, the education department said. 

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
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