Home / Opinion / What next after the ‘no homework’ and ‘anti-no permit, no exam’ bills?

What next after the ‘no homework’ and ‘anti-no permit, no exam’ bills?

October 09, 2019


NOT so much on whether a “No homework” law would make for good or bad policy, my concern is that our government is legislating something that falls under pedagogy, or teaching methods, and classroom management that should be left to the authority of teachers and the schools.

If this measure is approved, what would stop the legislature from passing, say, a “No quizzes after holidays” act, or a “No recitation for more than five minutes” law?

If there really is a foreign study or research on this, as its sponsors in Congress have mentioned, maybe it would be better if they just share them with the Department of Education (DepEd), so it can study the matter within the Philippine context and issue the appropriate administrative guidelines. This way it can be flexible enough to adapt to changes, and not rigid like enacted laws, which take years to amend.

Lastly, the bill also undermines the special role and authority of our teachers in the society by threatening them with imprisonment for something they are duty-bound to do — ensure that learning continues at home through assigned homework. There is even a joke going around that heinous crime convicts were released to create space for homework-giving teachers!

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On “No permit, no exam” bills (again!)

A few days ago, University of Mindanao President Dr. Willie Torres sent me a private message with a photo of Senate Bill 1536 introduced by Sen. Emmanuel Pacquiao titled, “An Act penalizing the imposition of a no permit, no exam policy or any such policy that prohibits students in all educational institutions from taking their periodic, quarterly, preliminary, midterm, or final examinations due to unpaid tuition and other school fees.”

This is a recycled bill from the one originally filed by Kabataan party-list in 2011 through Rep. Raymond Palatino, then refiled in subsequent Congresses by Senators Cynthia Villar and Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th. This is the second time that Senator Pacquiao is filing this bill and it has gotten to be even more absurd. This version of the bill prohibits withholding of all major exams due to unpaid tuition and other fees.

Also in July this year, a councilor in Valenzuela City filed his own version of the anti-no permit, no exam ordinance. This is the first time, I think, that the idea was proposed as an ordinance.

At first glance, people will laud this policy because of its social context. And the intention is commendable. But, this measure will have to overcome many tests both in terms of legality and reasonableness. One of the privileges of legislators is that they have the opportunity to see the bigger picture, through access to research, information and views of various sectors that enable them to make good policies. But, obviously, this privilege and mandate was not utilized well in coming up with a sound proposal, but instead the bill has been filed and refiled simply because it is popular with voters.

These are some of the legal issues that need to be addressed: the complementary role of private education should be recognized; academic freedom shall be enjoyed by all institutions of higher learning; reasonable regulation and supervision of schools by the Deped, Commission on Higher Education and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority — not by local government units; private schools have the authority to promulgate its own rules; reciprocity of school-student relationships give rise to bilateral obligations; and the constitutional non-impairment of obligations and contracts.

On practical considerations, the issues are: private schools depend on tuition for operations; they do not rely on government appropriations; many will close if this measure is passed; salaries of teachers and costs of utilities are paid through prompt tuition payments; many school personnel will lose their jobs. Our public schools are congested and over capacitated, they cannot accommodate all the students who will be displaced if their schools close.

Those who cannot make prompt tuition payments for justifiable reasons should be given consideration as a matter of exception, this is the beauty of the promissory note. But in making it illegal for schools to compel prompt tuition payments, then even those students who can afford to pay on time will not pay anymore, to the detriment of our educational institutions. Why are we making a general rule out of an exception?

Finally, quality education has a cost. Taking away the ability of private schools to promptly collect tuition is indeed popular, but it will ultimately affect the quality of our education and the competency of our graduates.

The author is the managing director of the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations; and legal counsel of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, the Philippine Association of Private Schools, Colleges and Universities, and the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities. He is the also the corporate secretary and legal counsel of The Manila Times, and managing partner of the Estrada and Aquino Law Co.

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