Schools face punishment for prohibiting students from taking exams-A A +A
Friday, July 29, 2011
SCHOOL owners or administrators are facing penalty if found guilty of prohibiting students with delinquent tuition fees to take the mid-term or final examinations. Rep. Carlo Lopez (2nd District, Manila) filed House Bill 4559 that declares unlawful the act prohibiting any student from taking any examinations due to non-payment of tuition fees.
Violators face suspension or cancellation of their permit to operate and a fine of not more than P50,000.
A reasonable compromise between competing needs of students and the administration of the schools must be prescribed. However, Lopez said the school authorities are entitled under the bill to withhold the release of the grades of such students until the unpaid tuition fees, plus interest charges, are fully paid.
The bill recognizes the rights of the school authorities, who cannot be compelled to issue clearance to students with unpaid financial obligations to their schools. Under the bill, the student with an unpaid tuition fee may be admitted by the school concerned at the next succeeding semester's classes or at the next succeeding opening of a new academic year, until the prior delinquencies are fully paid.
Lopez said the students shall be obligated to pay an interest for the unpaid-tuition fees, an amount equivalent to not more than 14 percent per annum, computed from the date of the examination, unless waived by the school's authorities. Lopez cited Section 99, Article 20 of the Manual of Regulation for Private Higher Education, which states that "Higher Education Institutions shall deny final examination for students who have outstanding financial or property obligation including unpaid tuition and other school fees corresponding to the school term."
Under the bill, the poor students with delinquent tuition fees shall be protected and can bring the their case to the court, as well as the schools right to slap interest for the unpaid tuition fees and cannot be compelled to issue clearances to students with financial obligations to their schools.
Most people would not think twice about throwing out old plastic bags, empty soda cans, scrap metal and used shampoo bottles. But for the students of Cavite Institute in the Philippines, trash like these have become their ticket out of poverty. This is because their non-profit private school, located in Silang in Cavite province, some 45 kilometres south of the Philippine capital of Manila, has a scholarship programme that allows its 852 students to pay school fees with recyclables instead of cash.
Called WISHCRAFT, which stands for "We Integrate Scholarship with the Collection of Recyclables and Frequently Generated Trash", the programme has enabled students from low-income families to enroll in the school and obtain scholarships and tuition fee discounts. Arvee Rose Abayabay, a fourth-year high school student, is one of those benefiting from the school's programme. Her mother just left for Kuwait to work as a sewer while her father serves in the local council.
It's a good programme for the students because it helps us a lot, especially in paying our tuition fees, says Abayabay, who plans to pursue a degree in nursing or food technology in university. The programme helps both students and the parents transform garbage into money for education while helping the environment. Elin Mondejar, who conceptualized the WISHCRAFT Programme at the Cavite Institute, tells how it works. All students who bring in recyclables automatically get a credit equivalent discount on their school fees. The discount may be used by the student or donated to another student in need.
Students, parents, teachers or individuals who endorse student applicants bring in recyclable items like cartons, paper, plastic, newspapers and glass bottles to a materials recovery facility right beside the school, where the items are then weighed and recorded. The school partnered with an intermediary, who delivers the recyclables to junk shops and gives the payment collected from these to the school's accounting unit, which then does the corresponding deductions according to the record of recyclables submitted per student. On average, tuition and other educational and project fees at the Cavite Institute total 30,000 pesos (680 U.S. dollars) a year or more for students, who are from the pre- school to high school level. School officials say that 40 to 50 percent of the students now avail of the discounts, with some paying 25 percent less in tuition fees due to the credits they earn from bringing in recyclable refuse.
The equivalent cost of each recyclable item depends on the type, number and quality of the goods. For instance, copper wire is traded at 150 pesos (3.4 dollars) a kilogram while white paper fetches six pesos (13 cents) a kg.
School principal Corrine Realica adds that students and teachers segregate and clean items before they bring them in, as clean items bring in more money than dirty and unsorted ones. While most rely on their own household trash, some have branched out to their relatives and neighbors and set up collection centers to go towards their tuition fund. Even teachers who aren't sending children to school have adopted scholars because they don't want their trash at home to go to waste. Special education students who are unable to afford school fees have also been supported by corporate sponsorships through WISHCRAFT.
Two such students have full scholarships under the multinational consumer goods firm Unilever, which donates proceeds from its recyclable garbage towards the students' tuition. Realica says the bulk trash donated by the company makes quite a difference because the tuition for special education students costs as much as 50,000 pesos a year (1,140 dollars), an amount way above what low-income families make in a country where 44 percent or over 40 million Filipinos live on less than two dollars a day.
A joint study by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the non-government Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) says that the number of children aged 6-16 who are not attending school rose from 1.8 million in 2002 to 2.2 million in 2007, partly due to the high cost of education. The WISHCRAFT programme, which was pilot-tested in 2002 and launched in 2004, is now considered a best practice for innovation, resourcefulness, cost-effectiveness, replicability and partnerships. There have been various spin-offs of this programme around the country. A farm school uses the same trash-to-cash concept to raise money for teachers' salaries. In a public school where tuition fees are free, recyclables brought in by students are logged and are convertible to school supplies. An out-of-school group set up a theatre group where the entrance fees are recyclables instead of cash. There is really money in garbage, and the possibilities are endless, says Mondejar. It makes students see garbage in a different light.
Mondejar says that the Cavite Institute programme benefits students who want better quality education, but cannot afford the tuition fees. The school limits its class size to 25 to 30 students, compared to public schools in the area that can have up to 70 pupils in one classroom.
From 48 scholars in school year 2002-2003, the number of students having full or partial scholarships or tuition-fee discounts now averages 500 annually. The programme makes two social priorities meet and thrive on each other - keeping youngsters in school and helping clean the environment. To date over 300 tons of recyclables which could have been disposed of in rivers, canals and highways have been
converted to a more worthy cause - education,' Mondejar points out (Inter Press Service).
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on July 30, 2011.