The largest private school groups in the Philippines have raised concerns that the private education system in the country may face dire consequences if the “No Permit, No Exam Prohibition” bills are passed into law.
In a joint statement, prominent educational associations including the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA), Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities (PACU), Philippine Association of Private Schools, Colleges, and Universities (PAPSCU), Association of Christian Schools, Colleges, and Universities (ACSCU), and Unified TVET of the Philippines, Inc (UniTVET) emphasized that the passage of these bills could lead to the closure of numerous private schools, significant job losses among teachers and staff, and the disenfranchisement of students.
The private school groups explained that without the ability to collect tuition fees or if the collection is delayed, private schools would face severe financial difficulties, potentially forcing them to shut down completely. In simple terms, the private education sector in the Philippines would collapse, which would have far-reaching consequences for the entire Philippine education system, as private schools play a vital role in providing education to Filipinos.
These bills, namely Senate Bill 1359 (covering private schools from elementary to tertiary and short-term vocational courses), House Bill 7584 (covering basic private institutions), and House Bill 6438 (covering higher education institutions), are currently under review by the Bicameral Conference Committee. This committee aims to reconcile conflicting provisions between the Senate and House of Representatives versions of the bills.
The private school groups also highlighted the financial vulnerability of private schools during the ongoing pandemic. Due to a sudden decline in student enrollment, hundreds of private schools have already been forced to close down because they could no longer sustain their operations. This led to disruptions in access to education and widespread unemployment, as students transferred to an already overwhelmed public school system, and many teachers and school employees lost their jobs. The private school groups fear that passing these bills into law could result in a similar scenario for more private schools.
In a separate statement, the Davao Association of Catholic Schools (DACS) argued that the “No Permit, No Exam Prohibition” bills do not favor students as they may seem. While these bills allow students to take exams without clearing their contractual obligations from enrollment, DACS officials pointed out that this doesn’t exempt students (or their parents/guardians) from fulfilling these obligations eventually. They highlighted that, especially for economically disadvantaged students in private schools, these obligations must be met to access exam results, continue to the next semester, or obtain their diplomas. Failing to meet these obligations could lead to financial strain on private schools and negatively impact the quality of private education.
Meanwhile, the Association of Christian Schools, Colleges, and Universities (ACSCU) called on lawmakers to postpone the Bicameral Conference Committee meeting until there is a comprehensive review of the proposed measures. ACSCU President Judge Benjamin Turgano expressed concern that these policies were rushed through without sufficient consultation with stakeholders who would be directly affected. If these bills become law, they could have devastating consequences for thousands of small private schools across the country.
In summary, the private education sector in the Philippines faces significant challenges if the “No Permit, No Exam Prohibition” bills are passed into law, including school closures, job losses, and disruptions to education. Stakeholders are calling for a careful review of these measures to ensure the best outcomes for both private schools and students.