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Private education system seen collapsing with prohibition bill

Jose Rodel Clapano - The Philippine Star
Private education system seen collapsing with prohibition bill
Students from Rafael Palma Elementary School shed tears of joy as they graduate from elementary on July 13, 2023.
STAR / Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — The private education system will collapse if students are allowed to take their examinations without paying their tuition fee first, according to private school groups.

In a statement signed yesterday by multiple groups representing private schools, they claimed that many private schools will close, thousands of teachers and staff will lose their jobs and thousands of students will be disenfranchised.

“Without tuition, or if its timely collection is impaired, private schools would be paralyzed or worse, cease or close operations altogether. Simply put, if the law deprives them of reasonable collection of tuition, our private educational sector will collapse, and ultimately the entire Philippine education system, owing to its vital role in the delivery of education to Filipinos,” the groups said.

In May, Speaker Martin Romualdez said that they “acknowledge... unforeseen emergencies and events that could prevent a family from paying their obligations but this should not jeopardize the learning and welfare of students. We hope to help them overcome this difficulty while also providing safeguards for the private basic schools.”

For the Davao Association of Catholic Schools (DACS), the policy is not pro-student and offers no long-term relief.

“The pro-student posture is deceptive. While allowing the student to take exams without paying contractual obligations incurred in enrollment, it does not relieve the student – or his/her parents or guardians – from fulfilling contractual obligations,” DACS said in a statement.

“Students in private schools find no long-term relief in this Senate bill. If they are poor, they will nevertheless have eventually to pay their financial obligations,” they added.

For the Association of Christian Schools, Colleges and Universities (ACSCU), the proposed policies were “passed with undue haste and without adequate consultation” and they urged to put on hold the bicameral conference committee’s meeting.

Three bills – Senate Bill 1359 and House Bills 7584 and 6438 – are currently pending at the bicameral conference committee, which will harmonize conflicting provisions between the Senate and House of Representatives versions of the measure.

Among the statement’s signatories are the ACSCU, Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations, Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities (PACU), Philippine Association of Private Schools, Colleges and Universities and Unified TVET of the Philippines Inc.

A PACU study concluded that tuition fee collections will only be able to cover operating expenses for two months on average if the policy is implemented, according to the groups’ statement.

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